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Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security

Joan Entmacher

Joan Entmacher is Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women's Law Center, where she leads a team working to improve policies important to the economic security of low-income women and their families, including tax and budget, child care, child support, unemployment insurance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and Social Security. Ms. Entmacher is a leading expert on issues affecting low-income women. She has been invited to testify before Congress on several occasions, written numerous analyses and reports on income support policies and their impact on poor women, and spoken frequently at conferences, briefings, and to the media. Prior to joining the National Women's Law Center, Ms. Entmacher served as Director of Legal and Public Policy at the National Partnership for Women & Families, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College, Chief of the Civil Rights Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, and attorney in the U.S. Department of Labor Solicitor's Office. Ms. Entmacher is a graduate of Yale Law School and Wellesley College.

My Take

Five Reasons to Celebrate Social Security's 79th Birthday

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: August 14, 2014 at 09:09 am

On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. As he said at the time, he was just laying the “cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete.” Since then, generations of Americans have contributed to, strengthened, and improved our Social Security system—and for generations, it has protected workers and their families against the loss of income due to retirement, disability, or death. Through wars and recessions, Social Security insurance payments have been made on time and in full; last month, over 58 million Americans of all ages relied on Social Security.

Each of those 58 million people has a story to tell about what Social Security means to them and their families—but 58 million is too many reasons to list. So here are five reasons to celebrate today:

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Reversed: Supreme Court’s Harris Decision a Setback For Home Care Workers and Child Care Providers

Let’s cut to the chase: Today’s Supreme Court decision [PDF] in Harris v. Quinn is a setback for millions of women working in low-wage jobs. It limits the organizing rights of home care workers and child care providers--two overwhelmingly female and poorly paid groups of workers. Through unionization, these workers have secured better pay, training, and working conditions for themselves—and the seniors, people with disabilities, and children who rely on these workers have benefited from a more stable and qualified workforce. Today’s decision doesn’t mean these workers’ voices will be silenced, but it does mean we have our work cut out for us – and that begins now.

The case involved an Illinois state law that authorized home care workers paid by the Medicaid program to decide, by majority vote, whether to join a union. (There are more details on the Harris case in this earlier post.) These workers provide home health services to individuals needing care, ensuring that people with disabilities and the elderly are able to stay in their own homes and avoid institutionalization, when possible. The workforce is large, often isolated, and turnover is high; allowing workers to form a union to negotiate with the state gives them input into their working conditions.

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7 Reasons the Ryan April Fool's Day Budget Is No Joke

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: April 01, 2014 at 02:09 pm

House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) chose this morning, April 1, to release his Fiscal Year 2015 budget.  Although calling a budget that guts programs helping struggling families and gives millionaires and corporations trillions of dollars in new tax cuts “The Path to Prosperity” is laughable, this budget is no joke.

  1. It slashes the federal budget by more than $5.1 trillion over the next 10 years, and programs serving low-income people—mostly women and their families—bear the brunt of the cuts.  The cuts are $500 billion deeper than in the draconian budget Rep. Ryan proposed  last year.
  2. The budget repeals the Affordable Care Act , slashes and dismantles Medicaid, and replaces the Medicare guarantee with a limited subsidy. 
  3. It slashes SNAP/Food Stamps, limits eligibility, and turns the program into a block grant that would not respond to increased need during recessions.   
  4. It cuts the funding available for other safety net programs, including Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Section 8 Housing Subsidies, the Low-Income Energy Program Assistance Program, and more. 
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Six New Facts on Why We Must Raise the Minimum Wage and Advance Equal Pay

We like numbers! We’ve previously identified 10 reasons why raising the minimum wage is a women’s issue. Well, we’ve been crunching some new employment and wage data and wanted to share these new six facts (and a chart!) that underscore why it’s critical to raise the minimum wage and advance equal pay and equal opportunity for women:

  • Three-quarters: The share of workers in the 10 largest low-wage occupations (defined in this analysis as those with median hourly wages of less than $10.10 per hour) who are women (76 percent), compared to 47 percent of all workers who are women.
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Poor Elderly Women Get Some Respect in the Senate

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: March 07, 2014 at 03:10 pm

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to testify before the Senate Special Committee on Aging about ways to reduce poverty among the elderly. Both Chair Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME) recognized that although elderly poverty has been reduced dramatically over the past 50 years, it remains a serious problem. This is especially true for women, who are two-thirds of the elderly poor.

Although Social Security does an amazing job of lifting older women out of poverty—without it, nearly half of older women would be poor—millions of older women—especially women of color and single elderly women—still live in poverty.  

There is another program intended specifically to provide a safety net for poor elders and people with disabilities: Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. Two-thirds of aged SSI recipients are women, and SSI does make a difference for many; in 2012, it lifted nearly 317,000 seniors out of poverty and 450,000 out of deep poverty (deep poverty means an income below 50 percent of the federal poverty line, or $5,500 a year for an individual). But between 2011 and 2012, the number of seniors living in deep poverty increased by 235,000, while the number of seniors receiving SSI increased by fewer than 23,000. When the growth in the number of elders in deep poverty is more than ten times the growth in the number receiving SSI, we know our safety net for poor elders is failing.

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