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Feminists for Taxes

May 30, 2001

Patricia Ireland and her National Organization for Women have released a statement attacking the Bush budget and tax-cut plan. She points to deficiencies in tax revenue and spending by virtue of accusing Bush of "pushing budget and tax cuts that will hurt women's physical and economic health as well as the safety of women and families."

No, George Bush is not personally injecting all women with the Ebola virus, nor is he drafting them into involuntary servitude, chasing down coffee and donuts for men. Ireland is simply lamenting the fact that the Bush budget plan does not include the desired amount of welfare for women.

The Bush budget and tax cut are far from perfect, but Ireland’s latest claim essentially says that the new budget and tax-cut plan is good for all men, and bad for all women and their children.

How can that be? How is it possible that Bush has managed to exclude women from a $1 trillion-plus tax cut?

Effectively, the president’s agenda for tax relief aims at replacing the current tax rates with a simpler and lower rate structure; doubling the child tax credit; reducing the marriage penalty; eliminating the death tax; and expanding the charitable deduction to those who don’t itemize their deductions. Ireland’s claim is that most women are employed in low-wage sectors, and that the lower income brackets are least likely to gain from the tax cuts. Hence, women lose out.

However, the lowest income bracket will see a reduction in tax rates from 15 percent to 10 percent for the first $6,000 for singles and the first $10,000 for those filing head of household—both categories typically including the women that Ms. Ireland speaks of. The next income bracket upward would get a 3-percent reduction in tax for the first $38,500 in that bracket and a 6-percent reduction for the next $71,200 on top of that for single filers; for those filing head of household, a 3-percent reduction in tax for the first $57,400, and a 6-percent reduction for the next $58,000. 

Of course, Ireland’s emotionally-laden press release does not expound on how and why tax cuts hurt women. She only maintains that "right-wing extremism" is inherently dangerous to women, economically and socially.

According to Ireland, the Bush Social Security Trust Fund Plan that would allow workers to pull a small percentage of their current payroll tax out of Social Security would spell doom for older women, and would find them paying the price for the Bush tax cuts and budget proposal. Here, Ms. Ireland finds it despicable that working individuals should be allowed to have a tiny bit more say in how their money is used instead of having the government decide where and when it should be spent. What Ms. Ireland really means is that privatizing a small portion of Social Security would mean there would be less currency to fall into the general-fund pot for further welfare spending on women’s causes. 

The Bush budget, though loaded with spending and handouts, is not good enough for the civic-minded Ms. Ireland.

"Bush's budget," says Ireland's release, "would cut breast- and cervical-cancer screening; drop the requirement for contraceptive coverage for federal employees and their families; cut the Maternal and Child Health Block Grants that provide health care to women before, during, and after pregnancy and childbirth and reduce infant illness and death; and freeze the Healthy Start program that also reduces infant mortality and morbidity. The highly acclaimed Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (the WIC Program) would be effectively cut, with actual funds available insufficient to cover inflation." 

This puts me in tears. How dare we expect people to take care of themselves, their health, and to have babies only when they can afford the care and maintenance that childbearing requires? After all, this would mean we expect personal responsibility and accountability for one’s own actions. That’s too preposterous a notion for Ireland's collectivist bunch.  

The feminist posture is typically one of taking from men’s health programs (testicular cancer, prostrate cancer, etc.) and handing off the dough to the breast-and-cervical crowd. Still and all, disease is disease. Spending other people’s money on the basis of gender specificity involves partaking in interest-group cabals that deprive one group of people in order to promote another group. It’s all trivial when we consider that no one should be taking anyone’s money to spend anywhere else. This is something vigilant money-grabbers, like the feminists, cannot ever conceive of.

Ireland also takes up arms over President Bush’s plan for funding education. She states, "The man who would be our ‘education president,’ Bush wants to cut all of the funding for Reading is FUNdamental, an effective program championed by both his wife and his mother."

How this can be a feminist issue is unclear. The truth is that, under Bush’s budget, publicly financed education and reading programs see huge gains, and the Department of Education would see a funding increase of $4.6 billion, however that is to be spent.

Other of Ireland's educational pet projects that she fears will get the axe involve child-abuse prevention, after-school babysitting, and school counseling—rubbish programs that take from the productive to fulfill the wants of the nonproductive and displace private alternatives. 

The feminist notion clearly defies itself in terms of economic opportunity. The feminists extol women as having the intelligence and competitive means to secure careers and financial independence outside of that provided by a man; but in contrast, each time the expanding dole is budgeting its handouts, people like those in the NOW crowd are demanding a larger portion of the subsidy pot.

The reality is this: We are in the midst of a slowing economy that is overburdened with taxation, regulation, and expanding executive budgets. Bush’s plan does nothing to keep the government in check. The good in Bush’s plan, however, is that it proposes a lesser hardship on the working person than any existing alternative. Any time we can procure a tax cut or a true spending cut, we have made a small piece of progress toward economic freedom, for men and women alike.



Karen De Coster, who lives in Michigan, is a business professional, freelance writer, and graduate student in economics. Send her mail and see her daily article archive.

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