Lawmakers busy drafting the big jobs bill for President Obama’s signature early next year need to stay focused on two things – fairness and creativity – to think beyond the kind of traditional public-works program President-elect Obama has talked about, even with his 21st-century addition of “green” jobs. That kind of stimulus package would do hardly anything for the 46 percent of the labor force that is female. That’s where fairness comes in. A bill centered on construction projects also does nothing about a major economic issue facing many families – the price of healthcare. Congress can fix both of those problems by looking to a bill passed during another dire economic downturn 25 years ago.
After the 1982 election, with unemployment topping 10 percent, a lame-duck Congress convened to pass an economic-stimulus plan. While the House Appropriations Committee penned provisions for highways and bridges, plus a whole lot of pork, the women in Congress (and there were only 21 of them) rose up to remind their colleagues of the recent results. More women had voted than men that November, and it was their votes that had bolstered the House Democratic numbers for the next Congress, and chipped away at the Republican majority in the Senate.