Facts You Should Know Before Watching Tonight's Democratic Debate
While there are far less Democrats than Republicans running for president, tonight’s Democratic debate on CNN (the first one in the 2016 election cycle) is still slated to be a doozy—and get people tweeting up a storm (@WomensHealthMag will be in on the fun throughout the entire event).
There are still so many unanswered questions. Like, what if Vice President Joe Biden decides to show up at the last minute? Do any of the other candidates even stand a chance against Hillary Clinton aka the Ronda Rousey of debates? And who is Lincoln Chafee? Like seriously, who the f*ck is that guy? But most importantly, what are the candidates going to say about reproductive rights, equal pay, and paid family leave?
Here, we’ve put together a brief primer on where the Democratic candidates stand on some of the most pressing issues for women.
On Paid Leave:
Clinton: Last Mother’s Day, Clinton released the following video, outlining her stance on paid leave. “It is outrageous that America is the only country in the developed world that doesn’t guarantee paid leave,” she says in the video.
Chafee: When he was the governor of Rhode Island, he expanded the Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program, which gives up to four weeks of paid benefits to workers who need to take time off to “bond with a new child, or care for a seriously ill child, spouse or family member.” If elected president, Chafee wants to expand this to folks not covered by the Medical Leave Act.
O’Malley: O’Malley has pushed hard for paid leave for both new mothers and new fathers. In 2014 he signed the Maryland Parental Leave Act, which requires small businesses to give new parents at least six weeks of paid leave. In February of 2015 he penned an article for Politico about this issue, writing, “Unfortunately, Republicans’ aversion to compromise means that many of the common sense economic policies that would most effectively help middle class families make ends meet, like paid family leave and ensuring equal pay for equal work, are stuck in the mud—just like Americans’ wages.”
Sanders: What if all companies were required to give employees 12 weeks of paid family leave, 2 weeks paid vacation, and 1 extra week of sick leave? That’s what Sanders is stumping for. He also wants to expand funding for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which provides nutritional meals to low-income women and children.
Clinton: According to her site, Clinton wants to “pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to give women the tools they need to fight discrimination at work, promote pay transparency across our economy so that women have the information they need to negotiate fairly, raise wages for the lowest paid jobs in America, which are disproportionately held by women, and establish workplace policies like paid leave and flexible scheduling that allow parents to take care of their obligations at home without sacrificing pay at work.”
Chafee: “It is unacceptable that inequity exists between the wages of men and women more than 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act,” Chafee writes on his site. “As President, I will fight to eliminate the median wage gap that exists between men and woman.”
O’Malley: Maryland has one of the smallest wage gaps between men and women, which is something O’Malley is very proud of. There’s also this video, where he said, “when women succeed, America succeeds.”
Sanders: Sanders isn’t afraid to get real about equal pay, either. He knows the nuances aren’t just gendered, but racial as well. If elected, he said he wants to sign the Paycheck Fairness Act into law to end gender-related wage discrimination once and for all. He also wants to raise the minimum wage to $15, which would help out low-income working women in a BIG way.
Webb: While Webb says he was “proud to sign the Lily Ledbetter Act in 2009,” he hasn’t come out with an official stance or plan of attack to guarantee women receive equal pay for equal work. This should be an interesting point tonight, if the issue comes up.
On Reproductive Healthcare and Abortion:
Clinton: She’s been outspoken on her support for a woman’s right to choose, and has fought against bills and laws that would limit or restrict access to reproductive healthcare for women. She thinks lawmakers should not be able to decide what is best for a woman.
A group of senators trying to make medical decisions for millions of women: That isn't leadership—it's malpractice. -H
Chafee: While he used to identify as a Republican, Chafee is actually remarkably pro-choice. Here’s a quote from his site: “The freedoms granted to America in our Constitution should never be abridged. I strongly support a woman's right to make her own personal reproductive decisions.”
O’Malley: O’Malley is all about those low-cost options. As Governor of Maryland he signed the Family Planning Works Act, which gave low-income women access to free or low cost birth control, counseling, and STI testing and cancer screenings. He also adamantly supports abortion rights.
Sanders: Sanders doesn’t just support a woman’s right to choose, he also wants to expand Medicaid coverage for planned parenthood, and says if elected, he will only nominate judges who “understand Roe vs. Wade is the law of the land.”
Webb: As the Senator from Virginia, Webb opposed the Blunt Amendment to the Affordable Care Act, which allows businesses to deny contraceptive coverage to employees (yep, this is the Hobby Lobby issue). He also voted against bills that would have prohibited federal money from being given to organizations that provided abortions, and voted against a law that would have made it illegal for minors to cross state borders for abortions.