Trump's Tough Love for Women

Donald Trump has promised a major speech in the coming week concentrating on Clinton and her husband. Last time I looked, her husband wasn't running for president. But never mind -- the Donald is sure to reprise his accusation that Bill Clinton is "the worst abuser of women in the history of politics," an effort to draw a contrast with himself.

As we've all heard from the horse's (ass) mouth many times, Donald Trump loves women, and his record shows it. Sometimes he loves them serially, and sometimes he loves both wives and lovers at the same time. So be it. Many other presidents, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and JFK -- just to count the 20th century -- have played the same game, albeit less flagrantly than Trump.

But while Trump's flaunting of divorces, affairs, and other indiscretions may indicate a certain hubris and lack of regard for public opinion, none of it counts as abuse for everyday American women. The real abuse will come from his policy ideas if he's elected.

Most prominent is Trump's newly found belief that women should be punished for having abortions. I know, he walked it back, but what's blurted first is usually more indicative of true beliefs than what's denied later. He also claims to support Planned Parenthood, but his idea of support is to defund the services like mammograms and birth control that the organization provides to low income women.

And what about women who already have kids? The Republican standard-bearer says we don't need to join the rest of the developed world and provide national child care -- private employers can take care of it. Most parents will be long dead before that happens, since only a tiny fraction of workplaces provide on-site child care, and the vast majority are large employers.2016-01-09-1452357911-7612339-YourVoice_2016Amazon.jpg As for family policy in general, Trump has exactly zero on his website. Guess he doesn't need it. He dispatched those pesky issues back in 2015 with a couple of quotes. Here's his entire platform according to On The Issues: "Happiest people have great families & God in their lives," and "Stress importance of a strong family, & a culture of Life."

The Donald brags about everything from the size of his hands to size of his fortune, and touting the fact that he's hired a few women for high level jobs is no exception. Did he pay them the same as the men in comparable jobs? Who knows? What we do know is that he has essentially dismissed the gender pay gap (79 cents on the dollar according to the Census Bureau) as nonexistent, and he's being sued for pay discrimination by a former campaign staffer.

Even if he did pay his handful of female higher-ups the same as men, Trump loves women so much he's going to keep their lower-level sisters working for slave wages. As with almost everything else, he has talked out of both sides of his mouth on wages, alternately saying they're "too high" and that "people have to get more" when he brings business back to the U.S. from overseas. But he has never advocated raising the federal minimum, even telling Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that we should do away with it altogether and let the states decide. Bad news for the 56% of minimum wage workers who are adult women, and even worse for tipped workers like nail salon employees and food servers who work for a measly $2.13 per hour minimum.

There is one area where Trump just might show a glimmer of compassion for females: Social Security - more important for women than men because their benefits are lower due to lower lifetime earnings, and they live longer. He says he will make the program solvent by cutting "waste, fraud, and abuse," and won't cut benefits or raise the retirement age. Whether he can stick to his guns on this is an open question, now that he's made a tentative peace with Paul Ryan, who believes Social Security is too generous and should be privatized. Ryan is in lock-step with the Republican party position, which has always been to cut, privatize, and means-test Social Security. All of these schemes would hurt women, who are the largest group of elderly in poverty.

It all adds up to one thing: if Donald Trump loves women, it's mighty tough love indeed.