REPUBLICANS BLOCK EQUAL PAY, PLAYING INTO DEMOCRATS’ PLAN FOR FEMALE VOTERS
The News: For the third time in four years, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would aim to narrow the wage gap between men and women, failed to pass in the Senate on Wednesday.
As expected, the Democratic bill fell short of receiving the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster by Republicans. The legislation would have required the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to collect pay information from employers. It would have made it illegal for employers to retaliate against workers who inquire about co-workers’ wages or disclose their own pay as part of a complaint or investigation.
The biggest obstacle to enforcing the laws is that many women do not know, or cannot prove, that they are underpaid.
Tuesday marked the symbolic Equal Pay Day, a date proponents used to demonstrate how far into 2014 women must work to earn what men were paid in 2013. On Tuesday President Barack Obama signed a pair of executive orders that put into effect for federal contractors some rules from the failed Senate bill.
The Take: The Fair Paycheck Act by itself wouldn’t have leveled wages. And it would have been dead on arrival in the House—not that certain defeat is always a deterrent. (See House Republicans’ bullheaded vote last week—their 52nd try—to repeal Obamacare.)
The bill got no Republican votes. They say it was unnecessary because gender-based discrimination in wages is already illegal. Rrrright. Because the Equal Pay Act has worked so well for the past 51 years, except for the fact that women today make on average 77 cents to every dollar earned by men.
Yet Republicans want you to know they firmly “support” equal pay for equal work. Let us count the ways:
Exhibit 1: White House press secretary Jay Carney says that women earn less because on average they hold lower-level positions and have less experience but that staffers of both sexes “in equivalent roles here earn equivalent salaries.”
The Republican National Committee criticized the Fair Paycheck Act as a “desperate political ploy” by Democrats and attacked the 77 cents-to-$1 disparity as “misleading.”