Thursday, August 14, 2008


Question: Which of the following did the right-wing New York Sun just describe as a political figure's "war on women"?

(A) John McCain's call for the immediate overturn of Roe v. Wade.

(B) Rush Limbaugh's speculation that John Edwards's infidelity took place because he "might be attracted to a woman whose mouth did something other than talk."

(C) The Bush adminiastration's attempt to classify some forms of birth control as abortion.


(D) Barack Obama's plan to limit tax increases to individuals making more than $200,000 a year and couples making more than $250,000.

I'm sure you guessed. It's (D).

... It amounts to a declaration of war on two-income families, a marriage penalty of punitive proportions. If those two single persons with income just under $200,000 get married, Mr. Obama is going to hammer them with a huge tax increase. If the second earner, who in many cases is the woman, is going to have to give 54% of what she earns to the government, she might as well stay home with the children. Mr. Obama may be able to get away with symbolic slights to women, such as not picking Senator Clinton as vice president. But punishing them with confiscatory taxes for participating in the workforce at a high income level moves the slight into the realm of substance.

You'll be forgiven if you have trouble understanding how a supposed "war" on a small sliver of the female population (high earners, and specifically high earners in New York City -- that 54% figures throws in our state and local taxes, and fudges the distinction between overall taxes and marginal taxes) is a war on women in general. But this is the same sort of deceptive rhetoric the right uses in arguing against the estate tax; it's meant to confuse the public and make ordinary citizens feel that they have a personal stake in what happens to a privileged few.

You'll also be forgiven if you don't understand why, if this is such a horrible problem, the wife in the couple must inevitably be the one who gives up her job. And you'll be forgiven if you can't understand why it would be so horrible to have tax rates that are more or less indistinguishable from those of the Clinton years, when Americans (and New Yorkers, including New York women) did rather well economically, thank you very much.

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