Mitt to Women: My Economy Will Give What My Policies Take Away

To any woman whose hope for a Romney-led surge in the economy obscures her concern about his presidency's impact on her well-being, I have to say bamboozled is the operative word.

Maybe that's a little harsh. Let's go with short-sighted.

The Romney team is working overtime to bring women into his camp with enticements of a better economy. Fair enough. We all want that.

But the path to the Promised Land is stated in applause-line generalities. Get government off our backs. Put Americans back to work. End waste and fraud. Restore what makes America great.

It's not a plan. It's talking points that outline empty promises.

Not so with our well-being. His beliefs are made of sterner stuff.

With Obama enjoying as much as a 20 point lead with women, who many pundits say could be the key to the election, you'd think that Romney would be a little more accommodating. But Romney's positions could not be clearer.

On Planned Parenthood: "... we're going to get rid of that."

He supported the Blunt Amendment -- a bill that would limit access to birth control by giving employers the right to deny insurance coverage simply based on the employer's moral convictions.

In a Fox News interview, he was asked if he supported a constitutional amendment that would legally establish that life begins at conception. His reply: "Absolutely."

Given the opportunity to make a clear statement in support of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which expands paths to challenge unequal pay, a simple "yes" could have put the matter to rest. Instead, an aide said "we'll get back to you on that."

The campaign later issued a statement in support of pay equity and is "not looking" to challenge the current law -- a bit shy of unqualified support.

He called Rep. Paul Ryan's budget "marvelous" -- despite the fact that its assault on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will be disproportionately tough on females.

His position on the Affordable Care Act: He'll "kill it dead" on his first day in office.

He's sanctioning a hit on legislation that creates an historic shift in women's health care -- preventing insurance companies from charging women more for coverage, adding coverage for screenings and other preventative measures, ending denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions -- like having been pregnant.

What's left for him to kill, of course, is pending the Supreme Court's ruling.

From the Massachusetts Governor's Office to the 2012 campaign trail, we've learned that Mitt Romney's positions are situational. What appear to be firm now may become more malleable once the fire-breathers on the far right can't so easily torch his political behind.

Or, as his advisor Eric Fehrnstrom put it to the delight of the news cycle and bloggers everywhere, campaign statements can change from the primary to the general elections -- like an "Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and start all over again."

Women can hope that Mitt Romney has a solution to the economy -- achieving that rare triumph of policy over platitude that will reset our compass and reignite our confidence. The reality is that we'll likely have to wait for something randomly apolitical like the Web or egregiously manipulated like the housing bubble to inflate our possibilities -- less a matter of leadership than timing.

But women's well-being is a different matter. Policy does have an impact -- particularly when a right-leaning Congress is there to stamp its approval. So far -- at least by the admittedly uncertain stars of Romney's sworn statements -- that impact does not look promising.