Obama Adviser: Stimulus Won't Be Sexist, Not Just Help For "Burly Men"
The Obama transition team put out a video on Sunday detailing the job creation components of their proposed stimulus legislation.
Putting aside, for a moment, the novelty of having the Chair-designate for the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, using YouTube to discuss the contours of a potentially $1 trillion stimulus, you get a sense of the kind of political pressures facing Obama's economic gurus.
Romer, during the nine-minute long clip, recounts how shortly after her appointment was announced, she received an email from a women's group expressing concern that any stimulus effort would disproportionately aid "burly men."
"That's been in the back of my mind as I've looked at this and thought about this, and that's where I have been one of the strong proponents," said the Berkeley economics professor. "The balance of the program, the fact that it does have the investments in education and health care, it does have the state fiscal relief, it does have the middle class tax cuts. All those pieces are creating jobs in some of the sectors like health care, education and retail trade, where women are a disproportionately large fraction."
In conversations with several women's issues officials, you do indeed get the sense of legitimate worry that the makeup of the stimulus package will be too focused on construction and manufacturing -- traditionally male areas of work.
"There is great concern," Martha Burk, formerly chair of National Council of Women's Organizations, told the Huffington Post, "not only that women won't get the jobs, but that unemployment itself is not helping women in the same numbers as men."
And, as such, the Obama team has been pressured in public and private to -- at the very least -- take into consideration the circumstances that women confront in the labor market and make sure that the stimulus bill reflects these circumstances. In her video Romer addressed this as well, saying:
We do think, obviously, if we are going do a lot of investment in roads and bridges, we are probably going to create jobs in construction. Absolutely, that is in there. But again... think about the investment in health care and education or state fiscal relief. Those are creating jobs in education and health care, not just in construction or in manufacturing where you might be used to thinking about where that kind of government spending is going to show up. Likewise, if you have a middle class tax cut, one of the places that that shows up is in wholesale and retail trade, because as people start buying things, we need people to run stores again...
...The jobs effects are somewhat concentrated in some industries, absolutely. Construction and manufacturing will have more than you get if you just had a completely generic kind of recovery package. But it is pretty broad-based and it is going to show up throughout the economy.