President Obama will be in Illinois on Wednesday, kicking off a series of speeches to realign focus on jobs and the economy. Ahead of fall fights over the debt ceiling and the budget that are sure to galvanize Washington even more than usual, the White House is trying to get out in front with a strong jobs message.
Meanwhile, Democratic women in the House are pitching an economic agenda of their own by reaching out to one specific group: women in the workforce.
Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro is one of the leaders of the new campaign to expand the definition of women’s issues to include pocketbook problems. DeLauro, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and their Democratic colleagues, are pushing an expansive agenda that they argue will help fight the financial pressures working women face. The plan focuses on addressing three economic challenges: the wage gap between working men and women, access to child care and paid leave for medical and family obligations.
“Today all women, and most particularly unmarried women, women who are single and widowed and divorced or separated, are under tremendous financial pressures,” DeLauro said on Jansing and Co. “Women make 77 cents on the dollar. Two-thirds of women are minimum wage workers.”
The Democratic agenda is titled "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds: An Economic Agenda for Women and Families." Democratic leaders pegged their plan to the women’s agenda that began 165 years ago at the Women’s Right Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. The agenda seeks to rebrand longstanding labor issues and reach a new audience that is impacted but not historically as active on economic issues.
Both Democrats and Republicans are keenly aware of the women’s vote and how important it is to reach out to registered female voters early and often. Earlier this year the House GOP came out with a bill trying to capitalize on the same "can women have it all?" debate. Their bill allowed workers to exchange overtime for comp time freeing up working parents who want more time with their kids.
The race for women voters is on. As with most things in Washington what remains to be seen is whether it will result in legislation that can actually be signed into law.
“What Leader Pelosi and myself and other Democratic women are focused on is what is happening to women in our economy,” concludeded DeLauro.