Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Janice D. "Jan" Schakowsky

Today’s Woman of the day is Janice D. "Jan" Schakowsky (born May 26, 1944) is the U.S. Representative for Illinois's 9th congressional district, serving since 1999. Jan grew up in the 9th District and returns home every weekend to meet with individual constituents, business leaders, and groups large and small. 

Jan was elected to represent Illinois’ 9th Congressional District in 1998, after serving for 8 years in the Illinois General Assembly. She is in her 7th term, serving in the House Democratic leadership as a Chief Deputy Whip and as a member of the Steering and Policy Committee. She is member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence where she is Ranking Democrat on the Oversight Subcommittee.

As co-chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, Schakowsky has been known for her support of women's issues while in Congress.

Jan Schakowsky has been a lifelong consumer advocate and a champion for, what she sees as, the disappearing middle class. After a brief teaching career, in 1969 Schakowsky was a young mother and consumer, frustrated by not knowing what items at the store were fresh. She organized the National Consumers Union (NCU). NCU members researched the meaning of the coded numbers on products, which were the only way to know the date something had been made, and thus its freshness. The group printed and sold 25,000 "code books", allowing shoppers to make sense of the numbers and buy fresh bread instead of days-old. When NBC's nightly Huntley-Brinkley newscast reported on the NCU's booklet, manufacturers were embarrassed into providing plain-English "use by" dates. 
From 1985 until 1990, Schakowsky was the Executive Director of the Illinois State Council for Senior Citizens. In 1989 she organized an old folks' protest against Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, who had supported a law that reduced the amount Medicare would shoulder for medications and catastrophic illnesses, leaving retired and often fixed-income seniors responsible for more of the costs. Due in part to the protests, the law was repealed.

Schakowsky is by some accounts the most Progressive member of the current US Congress. She is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She frequently gains ratings of between 90 and 100 from liberal and progressive interest groups and lower ratings from conservative groups.

In 2008 the passage of legislation she helped write made children’s products and toys safe, Jan has worked to make life better for working and middle class Americans.

In April 2009 Schakowsky pointedly criticized the tax day Tea Party protests, asserting that they were "an effort to mislead the public about the Obama economic plan that cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans and creates 3.5 million jobs." Schakowsky added, "It's despicable that right-wing Republicans would attempt to cheapen a significant, honorable moment of American history with a shameful political stunt."

For decades, Jan identified her top priority as winning affordable, quality health care for all Americans. In 2009 and 2010, she played a leadership role in writing and passing the historic Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that finally established health care as a right and not a privilege in the United States. 

Working and middle class people see Jan out there fighting for their jobs and paychecks at a time when income inequality has reached record levels. In 2010, then Speaker Pelosi appointed Jan to the President Obama’s 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform where she bucked the majority and offered her own proposal to balance the budget without cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid -- or further burdening struggling families. 
Jan is proudly pro-choice, favors marriage equality and comprehensive immigration reform. Jan was a founding member of the Out of Iraq Caucus in the U.S. House. She co-chairs the Democratic Senior Task Force which focuses on addressing the needs of older Americans.

We need more women like her in elected positions, someone who will fight for women, children and those who do not have voices. She is indeed an Awesome Woman!