Ronda Kaysen: With all the hype swirling around Barack Obama's first 100 days in office, we wanted to find out just what the new president has (or hasn't) done for families and women since he moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Here's a breakdown of 35 events from the past 100 days that affect moms and their families.
1. Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act, restoring women's legal right to sue their employers for pay discrimination.
2. Obama's economic stimulus package saves and creates jobs in fields where women workers are the substantial majority -- health care, child care, and education.
3. Obama ended Bush's "global gag rule," a ban on federal funding for international organizations that offer abortion counseling.
4. Obama stripped funding for contraception for low-income women from the stimulus bill because of Republican opposition.
5. The National Organization for Women (NOW) has Obama's back. When asked if the Obama administration was friendlier toward women's groups than the Bush administration, NOW president Kim Gandy said, "Are you kidding? The difference is like night and day."
6. Obama rolled back the Bush administration's "conscience" clause, which would have given health care workers the right to deny patients abortion, contraception, or any other procedure that they found morally objectionable.
7. Obama has appointed seven women to Cabinet-level positions.
8. Speaking of female Cabinet appointees, Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as Secretary of Health and Human Services yesterday.
9. Obama institutes a new ambassador-at-large, Melanne Verveer, for global women's issues.
10. Obama establishes the White House Council on Women and Girls, tapping senior adviser Valerie Jarrett as chair and Tina Tchen as executive director.
11. The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act restarts U.S. contributions to the United Nations Population Fund.
12. The spending bill also reinstates low-cost birth control availability at college health centers and at about 400 clinics for low-income women.
13. Obama calls Afghanistan's proposed Shia Family Law -- which would legalize marital rape -- "abhorrent," pressuring Afghan President Hamid Karzai to reconsider the law.
14. Obama taps Elena Kagan to be the first woman Solicitor General.
15. Signs act to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover 11 million children.
16. Dedicates $5 billion to expand Head Start and childcare options for working families.
17. The FDA extends Plan B availability to 17-year-olds. The so-called Morning After Pill was a hot-button issue during the Bush administration.
18. Obama invites gay parents and their kids to attend the White House Easter Egg Roll.
19. Obama vows to remove combat troops from Iraq by August 2010, but sends 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan. For military families, this means the years of sacrifice will likely continue.
20. Obama launches a plan to help 9 million homeowners refinance mortgages.
21. New homebuyers are eligible for a tax break up to $8,000.
22. Purchase a new car, light truck, motor home, or motorcycle and you may be entitled to deduct the taxes you paid on next year's tax return.
23. Most taxpayers qualify for a tax credit of up to $400 this year and next -- $800 for married couples filing jointly.
24. The final stimulus plan includes provisions that offer direct assistance for low-income households.
25. The Energy Department sets higher efficiency standards for household appliances.
26. Declares carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases a danger to "public health."
27. Obama increases weekly unemployment benefits by $25 per week, and workers who plow through 26 weeks of unemployment benefits may be eligible for 20 additional weeks.
28. The first $2,400 of unemployment benefits a person receives in 2009 is tax-free.
29. Many laid-off workers are eligible for a new 65 percent subsidy to help cover the high cost of COBRA, the federal health insurance program.
The First Family
30. Marian Robinson, the First Lady's mom, moves to the White House to help care for First Kids.
31. Bo, a Portuguese water dog, moves into the White House, courtesy of Senator Ted Kennedy.
32. Michelle plants a vegetable garden outside the Oval Office.
33. The Obamas turn down a $100,000 subsidy to remodel the White House, saying they will pay for changes themselves.
34. The Obamas report $2,656,902 in income.
35. The White House gets a swing set.
|Ronda Kaysen is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, BusinessWeek.com, Architectural Record, Huffington Post, New York Observer and AM New York. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.|