Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012

Progressive Women Aren’t Buying What Tommy Is Selling

By Lisa Kaiser
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Supporters of U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin gathered at her Milwaukee campaign headquarters to have a chat about the record of her Republican rival, Tommy Thompson.

The panelists—state Rep. Sandy Pasch, state Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa and MPS board member Megan Hollman—and the dozen or so women in attendance had a good chuckle about Tommy’s new campaign ad featuring his wife, Sue Ann, who is rarely seen in public with her husband but has cut the ad in an attempt to lure women voters to his side.

The elected officials acknowledged that Thompson is concerned about the welfare of his wife and daughters. But his stand on political issues that affect all women? On those, Tommy has it all wrong.

Topping the list, of course, is Tommy’s disregard for wage equality. While Baldwin, President Obama and their fellow Democrats have enacted the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Republicans opposed it and have downplayed its importance. As it stands now, the average woman makes 77 cents to each man’s dollar. Now, imagine if Tommy had made only $770,000 to his fellow board members’ million dollars? I’m sure there would be a law against that.

Zamarripa noted that if women were paid fairly, an extra $200 billion would be circulating in the economy—in local businesses, in restaurants, in the housing market. Think about that.

The conversation, naturally, turned to reproductive rights. Baldwin supports a woman’s right to make decisions about her health and happiness. Thompson, on the other hand, has moved to the extreme far right and only supports abortion exemptions for rape and incest.

Now, why on earth should we allow Tommy Thompson—or any other politician—to make such an important decision for all women across the country?

What ever happened to personal freedom?

And Thompson promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which contains important protections for women. Insurance companies are no longer able to discriminate against women by charging them more for an insurance policy. Common cancer screenings and birth control are covered without co-pays. And insurers would not be able to deny a woman coverage if she is a survivor of domestic abuse, a breast cancer survivor, or has had a pregnancy.

But Thompson’s mission to repeal the Affordable Care Act would, obviously, repeal all of those provisions. 

Then there’s a range of issues that aren’t, technically, “women’s issues,” but affect anyone with a conscience. Like, how we as a society treat people with a mental illness. Pasch noted that in 2014, mental health issues will be treated just like “physical” issues under the Affordable Care Act. Meaning, people who need treatment will be able to get it. Full stop. No strange patchwork of state regulations around the country, no discrimination, no wallet-gouging treatments and prescriptions.

Thompson’s enthusiasm for building prisons and privatizing public services was also raised by the Baldwin supporters. Thompson started a prison spending spree, which has led to billions of taxpayer dollars spent on a criminal justice system that doesn’t rehabilitate offenders, only penalizes them (and their families). And, of course, Thompson led the drive for unaccountable voucher schools, which still don’t perform as well as the Milwaukee Public Schools, and he launched the privatization of welfare as well—with decidedly mixed results.

So, yes, the Baldwin supporters cheerfully poked holes in Thompson’s record. And who knows? They probably would have been in an even better mood if they had known that the new Marquette University poll, released this afternoon, shows Baldwin opening up a healthy 4-point lead over Thompson just days before the election. While both candidates are underwater as far as favorability goes, Thompson is deemed “unfavorable” by a whopping 51% of those polled. Wonder how many are women?

 


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