Grading the Candidates: McCain Failing From Child Care to Reproductive Rights

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Grading the Candidates: McCain Failing From Child Care to Reproductive Rights

Amie Newman

An independent group of economists rates the candidates during the financial crisis on ten critical issues for women. McCain barely passes, Obama scores high.

Senator McCain may not need to get his report card signed by his parents any longer but he’s still got to answer to American voters next week and his grades aren’t looking good.

Today, the Economists’ Policy Group for Women’s Issues (EPGWI), an "independent working group of economists", released a report card (PDF) for each of the presidential candidates, evaluating them on ten key, critical areas of concern for women and with an overall grade of "D", Senator McCain barely passed. Senator Obama received an overall grade of "B." 

EPGWI analyzed the candidates’ voting records, positions and statements on a range of issues from retirement security to reproductive rights. Unsurprisingly, Senator Obama’s two "A" grades were given for domestic violence issues and reproductive rights. Senator McCain’s highest grade, C -, was given in the areas of health care and non-traditional families. 

According to the press release, these economic issues are particularly important to note right now – in a time of financial crisis. University of Massachusetts Boston Professor Randy Albelda, one of the authors of the report, said the candidates’ stands on several of the issues in the report card give valuable insights into how they would handle the crisis. 

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The Group’s Chair, Professor Nancy Folbre, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, noted that Joe Six Pack and Joe the Plumber are getting lots of attention in this campaign.  “What about Josephine the Working Mother, Wanda the Waitress, and Sarah the School Teacher?  These working women care about health care, pay equity, retirement security, paid time off, and child care and want to know how the candidates stand on these issues,” Folbre said.

On the issue of health care, The Group’s press release noted that while Senator Obama’s health care plan does not offer universal health care, and "many women would benefit greatly from a national program that offers universal care coverage", Obama’s plan would cover all children and likely more adults than McCain’s plan (which earned a C-). Dr. Lois Shaw, another of the report’s authors, said, "The Group is concerned that under both plans, young, healthy adults might not purchase insurance, raising the costs to those who do."

On the issue of child care, a challenge for most families in this country, but especially for low-income mothers (who spend, typically, 25% of their earnings on child care), Senator McCain was given a disastrous "D" because of his "lack of support for increasing government subsidies for child care." Senator Obama favors expanding federal funds for childcare, earning him a "B."

Finally, Senator Obama earned top grades for his support for women’s reproductive health and rights and domestic violence prevention and reduction. The Group used his support for Roe v. Wade and the Violence Against Women Act and McCain’s opposition to both (McCain received an "F" in both areas) to assign the grades. 

According to the EPGWI, women of all ages "will be among those hardest hit by the recession because they already comprise a majority of Americans living in poverty." It’s true, though we have heard very little about this since the economic downturn. The reality is that on issues ranging from health care to child care, it’s women and children who suffer the greatest damage no matter where the economy stands. 

For the full report card, click here