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Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel

Julie Vogtman is Senior Counsel for the Family Economic Security Program at the National Women’s Law Center. She works on a range of issues involving economic support for low-income women and their families, including minimum wage policies, unemployment benefits, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). She also contributes to the Center’s work on federal budget and tax policies, including implementation of the tax credit components of the Affordable Care Act.  Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Vogtman was an associate with Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of Furman University and Georgetown University Law Center.

My Take

Senator Gillibrand’s American Opportunity Agenda Would Help Women – and the Economy – Prosper

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: October 28, 2013 at 11:54 am

Though the government shutdown is over and the threat of default has passed (for now), Congress remains wildly unpopular; many doubt that our elected representatives are as concerned with making the country work for ordinary Americans as they are with scoring political points. It doesn’t help that the latest jobs numbers show an economic recovery that is still painfully slow and leaving large numbers of people behind.

But all is not lost. Some Members of Congress are calling attention to the legislative steps that are needed to spur a strong, shared recovery – and recognizing the critical role of women in driving the economy forward. For example, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is championing a new economic agenda for women and families (titled “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds”), which includes measures to improve pay, combat employment discrimination, help workers balance their jobs and family responsibilities, and expand access to high-quality, affordable child care. And on the Senate side, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) recently unveiled her “American Opportunity Agenda,” which aims to help families achieve economic security through five key policy solutions:

  1. Providing paid family and medical leave through a new fund to which both employees and employers would contribute, modeled after successful state programs in New Jersey and California.
  2. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, raising the minimum cash wage for tipped workers to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and indexing both wages to keep pace with inflation, as proposed by the Fair Minimum Wage Act.

What You Need to Know About the Budget Deal

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: October 18, 2013 at 10:30 am

Late Wednesday night, the House passed – and President Obama signed – a budget deal hammered out by the Senate to end the federal government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, narrowly avoiding the threat of default. (The Treasury Department estimated that the U.S. would come perilously close to running out of cash to pay its bills by Thursday.) Here’s what the bill does:

  1. It suspends the debt ceiling through February 7, 2014. The Treasury Department can borrow additional funds through February 7 to ensure that the U.S. meets its obligations, and Treasury may employ “extraordinary measures” to pay the nation’s bills for a while after that date. But the debt ceiling will need to be raised or suspended again later in 2014.
  2. It ends the shutdown and funds the federal government through January 15, 2014. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are now back on the job, museums and monuments have reopened, and federal programs are resuming normal operations. The bill provides back pay for furloughed workers and reimbursement for states that covered costs during the shutdown that are normally assumed by the federal government. But the 16-day shutdown needlessly cost billions of dollars, weakened the economy and the creditworthiness of the United States, and hurt low-income families who rely on government programs.
  3. It leaves the health care law intact – but keeps the sequester, too. The bill does not contain any of the major concessions that House Republican leadership sought to delay or defund provisions of the health care law (“Obamacare”). But the Senate did agree to maintain FY 2013 spending levels through January 15, which means the sequester – which has cut billions of dollars from programs that women and their families depend on and undermined the economic recovery – will continue. Under the bill, government funding levels for the first few months of FY 2014 will be much closer to the House-passed budget plan than to the Senate’s own FY 2014 budget.


It’s 10.10 – And Time for a $10.10 Minimum Wage

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: October 10, 2013 at 09:58 am

There’s not a lot of good news coming out of D.C. these days – the federal government is still shut down, and we’re only a week away from October 17, which is the date by which the national debt ceiling must be raised for the country to keep paying its bills and avoid a catastrophic default. To date, House Republican leaders have refused to hold a vote on legislation to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling without attaching unreasonable (and unrelated) conditions, like delaying, waiving or defunding parts of the health care law (a.k.a. “Obamacare”).

But local politics is often quite a different story than national politics, and recent weeks have brought some very positive developments in our region on a critical issue: the minimum wage. This week, a D.C. councilmember joined with a number of restaurants, breweries and other local businesses to call for raising the District’s minimum wage from its current level of $8.25 per hour to $10.25 per hour within two years – and several other minimum wage proposals have recently been introduced in D.C. Nearby in Maryland, councilmembers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have introduced bills to raise their local minimum wages from $7.25 to $11.50 per hour over three years, and Governor O’Malley and state legislators have also expressed support for a statewide minimum wage increase.  

The D.C. area is hardly an outlier here.


How the Shutdown Is Hurting Low-Income Families

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel | Posted on: October 04, 2013 at 10:30 am

We’re on Day 4 of the first federal government shutdown in 17 years. Here in D.C., the subway and the streets are noticeably emptier without thousands of federal workers on the job. And while a few might be enjoying their time off to take advantage of the shutdown-themed happy hours around town, most are worried about the financial consequences of a prolonged shutdown for themselves and their families (especially since many have already faced pay freezes and furloughs thanks to the sequester and other budget cuts).

But it’s not just the 800,000 furloughed federal workers who are affected by the shutdown. Some federal contractors won’t get paid, either – including workers making close to minimum wage who are unlikely to have much in the way of savings to fall back on. And low-income families who depend on federally funded programs are suffering, too. For example:


The Story Behind the Numbers: Poverty

Posted by | Posted on: September 16, 2013 at 08:54 am

This week, the Census Bureau will release new data on poverty, income, and health insurance in the U.S. in 2012. As we get ready to crunch numbers, we thought it would be helpful to take a deeper look at what these numbers tell us – and don’t tell us – about poverty. Here are a few FAQs on poverty and the Census Bureau data.

What does the poverty rate measure?

The poverty rate measures the percentage of the U.S. population with income below the federal poverty threshold, often referred to as the “poverty line,” for their family size (e.g., $23,283 in 2012 for a family of four with two kids). Income is calculated before taxes and includes only cash income such as earnings, pension/retirement income, Social Security, unemployment benefits, and child support payments.