One of the slogans of the White House's "United States of Women" Summit (June 14) was, "Today, we'll change tomorrow."
Just now reading a summary of the summit's policy prescriptions, I must say a better slogan would be, "Today, we're not going to change a thing, even though the policies of the last seven years have produced a a sluggish economy and few new opportunities for women."
The White House summit, which drew more than five thousand, can actually be summed up in four words: same old, same old. It's prescriptions are in marked contrast to IWF's Working for Women: A Modern Agenda for Improving Women's Lives.
While our agenda promotes a dynamic economy and equity in the workplace without growing government, the White House summit could see only growing government and some of the tired "solutions" of the past as the Democratic agenda.
Five of the "Six Pillars of the Summit" amounted to demands for more government intervention into the workplace. Mandatory paid family leave, for example, was a pillar–we're all for paid leave but didn't anybody tell the White House summiteers that making it mandatory will mean that some employers, especially those struggling to remain solvent, will be hesitant to hire women if they know that the government has mandated a leave policy they perhaps can't afford?
Another pillar is hiking the minimum wage, and it's telling that one of the speakers on this topic was none other than Hollywood star Patricia Arquette. Ms. Arquette, you may recall, gave an impassioned but factually-challenged speech on the minimum wage at the Oscars in 2015 (here and here).
I'm willing to bet that Ms. Arquette didn't mention that hiking the minimum wage inevitably leads to higher unemployment, especially for lower-skilled workers and minority youths who need entry level jobs to start their careers.
And what kind of plan concentrates on the minimum wage instead of prosperity so that more and more people can move up to jobs that pay well?
The White House summit in every instance focused on government solutions. For example, it proposed government training for women who want to own small businesses. I've got a better idea: a lot of women already have terrific ideas (without government training!) for small businesses but are hampered by government regulations.
Cutting the endless regulations required to start a business would help more than a taxpayer training program. Eliminating unnecessary licensing regulations for some businesses would also go a long way to help women entrepreneurs. But the White House can only see more government as the solution.
As for educational opportunities, the summit called for free community college (community college is still relatively inexpensive and still offers students the character- building experience of working to get through college) and higher quality day care. But the current problem with day care is that excessive government regulations put it out of reach to many struggling families.
The never-never-land atmosphere at the summit was enhanced by having Mariska Hargitay–aka Detective Olivia Benson on "Law and Order: SVU"–as one of the speakers on violence against women. While we applaud any efforts to make headway combating human trafficking, we are critical of the administration's guidelines for college tribunals handling rape accusations. The guidelines erode due process for the accused. Rape is a heinous crime, and it would be better if accusations were turned over to law enforcement.
The summit praised the job-killing Affordable Care Act and called for continued progress in the area of women's health care. Reading between the lines, I think there was an ominous note for those who were worried about the White House's legal battle with the Little Sisters of the Poor, who did not want to pay for health insurance that covered contraception and abortafacients. Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, which is heavily-funded with taxpayer money, was one of the speakers in this segment.
All in all, the summit seemed to be a day calling for more of the failed policies of the last seven years. Aren't you ready for a little innovation and freedom?
If this is all the White House can think of, then the GOP certainly has a great opportunity to make an attractive pitch to women that recognizes us as independent beings who don't need government at every turn of our lives.