We kick off today's roundup with the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. USA Today points out that ending workplace discrimination is a no-brainer:
The Senate is poised to pass the bill by the end of the week, but even if that happens, it's just half the battle. The legislation's prospects in the Republican-dominated House are poor. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, opposes the bill because it would "increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small-business jobs," a spokesman reaffirmed Monday.The New York Times editorial board:
Boehner's objections might be more convincing if "jobs" weren't the same all-purpose complaint House Republicans aimed at anything they didn't like. In fact, even some of the bill's opponents admit the bill is unlikely to touch off the sort of lawsuits Boehner implies will cause employers to be fearful of hiring.[...]
Just as with earlier efforts to bar discrimination against women and minorities, the push to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation will some day seem like an obvious step toward ensuring that every American has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The measure is urgently needed. Currently, just 17 states have laws barring employers from refusing to hire or promote people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and another four states have workplace nondiscrimination laws that cover gay men, lesbians and bisexuals but not transgender people.Benjy Sarlin at MSNBC looks at the political fallout from the GOP's opposition to the measure:
The segment of socially conservative Republicans strongly opposed to these measures can’t hold back these floodwaters for much longer. But what they can control is how much political damage the party suffers after the dam bursts and LGBT rights are an unremarkable assumption of American life.Andrew Rosenthal at The New York Times:
Republican strategists have been warning for years that gay rights are one of the most critical tests the party faces in the next few election cycles. That’s because they’re strongly associated with Millennial voters, the generation that’s by far the most broadly accepting of gay marriage and LGBT rights in general. Many Republicans are worried the issue has become one of the key litmus tests these voters – who went strongly for Obama in 2008 and 2012 – apply to candidates to determine their vote.
As President Obama put it in a blog item (!) for The Huffington Post: “It’s offensive. It’s wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense.”Meanwhile, Jonathan Capehart at The Washington Post looks at the continuing GOP sabotage of the Affordable Care Act:
Tell that to Senator Marco Rubio, who comes from Florida, where there is broad public support in polls for ending workplace discrimination, but who is going to vote against this bill because he wants the Tea Party crazies to support him for president. And tell that to House Speaker John Boehner, who long ago decided he was going to speak only for a narrow slice of his party. “The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” said his spokesman, Michael Steel.
It’s only a “frivolous” issue if you consider gay men, lesbians and transsexuals to be less than full Americans.
[T]he federal exchange that Republicans said wouldn’t work ended up not working because it was starved of the money needed to help make it work. [...] The federal exchange that Republicans said wouldn’t work [also] ended up not working because the GOP pressured Republican governors to not form their own state exchanges. This made the federal task more complex and difficult, thus ensuring its failure.More on the day's top stories below the fold.
Women who are married or divorced will find it more difficult to cast a ballot in upcoming elections in Texas and nine other states: Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin. These states require specific types of government-issued photo identification that women, in particular, may find difficult to obtain.Finally, on the under-reported issue of poverty in America, Greg Kauffman at The Nation examines whether it's possible to cut poverty in a decade:
The reason is that nearly 90 percent of women change their names when they get married or divorced and frequently wind up with discrepancies between their names on various pieces of identification necessary to get a government-issued voter photo ID.
A 2006 survey, the most recent available, by the Brennan Center for Justice shows that 34 percent of voting-age women do not possess a proof-of-citizenship document that reflects their legal name. Add to this a divorce rate of 40 percent to 50 percent, and it’s easy to see that a lot of women could have a problem at the polls.
[The Half in Ten campaign] proposes that indeed people are worth investing in so that they can succeed and contribute to society; and that our country has the wealth to ensure that those who can’t work, or can’t find work with decent wages, can obtain the services needed to escape poverty.
The report focuses not only on the 46.5 million people living in poverty, but also on the more than one in three Americans—106 million of us—who live below twice the poverty line, on less than $36,600 annually for a family of three. While these families and individuals might not officially be in poverty, they are struggling to afford the basics—food, housing, healthcare, education—and are just a single hardship away from poverty.
The report suggests that the biggest obstacles to the kind of “shared prosperity” we had in the three decades following World War II—where all incomes were lifted by an expanding economy—are slow and inequitable economic growth and a proliferation of low-wage work, all exacerbated by the sequester and austerity policies.