They say it’s a historic moment for women–Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House! Not only will Madame Speaker be in charge of the ”people’s house” of Congress, she will be third in line for the presidency. In the weeks to come, no doubt, breathless pundits will explore whether Pelosi’s ascension is a harbinger of another, more profound turning point: A President Hillary Clinton.
Many female voters may feel vindicated. For two decades, women have consistently voted for more liberal candidates than men. If only women voted, America would have had a President Gore in 2000, a President Kerry in 2004 and a Democratic-controlled Congress. This voting trend sends the apparent message: Women want caring, nurturing, “feel your pain” Democrats running the show on Capitol Hill.
American women should be careful what they wish for. Over the next two years, they will witness some of the consequences of having liberals in charge, as Democrats push for bigger government, higher taxes, and more regulation—none of which benefit women.
Consider taxes. Democrats have derided the Bush tax cuts as solely rewarding the rich. Yet when the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, middle class families will learn how much these tax laws have benefited them. In four years, the child tax credits will be cut in half, the marriage penalty will return, and the bottom income tax bracket will rise from ten percent to fifteen percent. Middle class families may be surprised that the Democrat’s agenda of repealing Bush’s “tax cuts for the rich” will put a serious squeeze on their family budget.
American women will also learn how higher taxes hurt the economy. Many of us don’t feel directly affected by investor tax cuts on dividends and capital gains. Yet these cuts have a significant, positive impact on the economy, and their elimination will have the opposite effect. Increased taxes on investment make capital more expensive, which makes it harder for businesses to expand and create jobs. That means slower economic growth and higher unemployment.
One of the few specific items in the Democratic agenda for 2007 is a minimum wage increase. Like most Americans who don’t look closely at the policy, many women see this as economic common sense. The reality is, like all regulations, a higher mandated wage comes with hidden costs like unemployment and higher consumer prices. Liberals portray employers as having an endless supply of money that they could give to employees were they not so coldhearted. The truth is companies forced to increase wages must find ways to cut costs or to increase revenue. This means reducing other salaries, firing workers, hiring less, or raising prices.
Democrats champion numerous, feel-good spending initiatives. They want more government funding for healthcare and welfare programs, and greater subsidies for student loans and daycare. Sounds appealing, but these “giveaways” come with significant costs. They increase taxpayers’ burden, short circuit economic growth, change people’s decisions, and usually result in greater government control over important areas of our lives. Consider if Washington further subsidizes institutional daycare facilities. Many women may find their private daycare providers struggling to compete and closing their doors, leaving women fewer (and often less appealing) options. Similarly, government provision of healthcare invariably means lower quality and less choice.
These domestic policies are only the beginning. Democrats have different priorities for fighting the War on Terror. The incoming Speaker of the House voted against the Patriot Act, opposed the NSA’s Terrorist Surveillance program, and—while a big spender in just about every other area—has supported cutting funds for intelligence programs. Many American women are frustrated by the course of the war in Iraq, but will they feel comfortable with Speaker Pelosi’s tactics of reigning in our intelligence and national security community’s effort to defend our homeland? Intelligence is our only alternative to military campaigns abroad.
Many women may celebrate Speaker Pelosi’s ascension to one of the highest offices in the land as a milestone reached for women. Yet this could be a turning point of another kind. Over the next two years, American women will become reacquainted with the consequences of Democratic policies and may begin rethinking their support of liberal politicians, regardless of their gender. Republicans were far from perfect in their running of Congress, but sadly, all indications are that Speaker Pelosi will fare worse.