Republicans Would Be Crazy Not To Vote For The Paycheck Fairness Act
12:30 pm, June 5th | by Amy Tennery
Given the contentious nature of the gender pay gap debate, it’s not surprising that today’s Paycheck Fairness Act Senate vote is something of a nail-biter. The legislation, in essence, is asking some senators to vote on an issue many people don’t believe exists. Vote to help eliminate the gender pay gap — and while you’re at it, vote to end discrimination against unicorns, amiright?
I’m being facetious, of course. And I’ve rambled on about gender pay gap enough times that it’s pretty obvious by now where I stand. Sex discrimination exists, women are routinely paid less than men, and no, it’s not because money is “more important for men.” This is a real thing, backed up by real Bureau of Labor Statistics data. It’s not because we’re not aggressive enough, and no, it’s not good enough to justify it by saying “but women want to be mommies!” This is an actual, systemic problem.
But I get it; some people (*cough*republicans*cough*) can’t be swayed. But voting for the Paycheck Fairness Act is still a really good idea, even if it’s only from a strategic standpoint.
For starters, look at the meat and bones of this bill. Put simply, the Paycheck Fairness Act is a stopgap measure to keep women from getting screwed over when they believe they may be the target of gender pay discrimination. Currently there’s a big gaping hole in the Equal Pay Act, one that allows employers to justify paying a female employee less than a male employee for “factor other than sex.” It is, as a New York Times editorial put it, “a much-needed updating and strengthening” of Equal Pay. It puts employers on the hot seat if they’re paying their women less than men and it “protect[s] employees from retaliation for sharing salary information.”
In short: This bill isn’t forcing anyone’s hand. It provides greater employee protections as part of a legit update on a nearly 50-year-old law. Not exactly radical hippie stuff.
But here’s why it should matter to Senate Republicans: From a strategic standpoint, they should want to vote for this.
Let’s not kid ourselves here — this election cycle has boiled down to a battle for the women. Once a non-starter of an issue, the “Limbaugh incident” catalyzed something major. Women felt attacked by the right — and, yes, attacked by the left.
And the coldest, most cynical of hearts will tell you, Obama’s done really well at getting on this bandwagon. And the cold hearts would be right.
During the Masters this year, did Obama really need to condemn Augusta National for barring women? Nope! But oh, did we love it when he did.
And a day later, he followed that with this address on, yep, closing the gender pay gap:
Obama acknowledges that the gender pay gap is real. And he says that we need to put in measures to fix this. This is lightyears ahead of the rhetoric we’ve seen from the right.
Why wouldn’t Senate Republicans want to get on board with this? The Paycheck Fairness Act, in all its mild-mannered, women-protecting sentiments isn’t a bad compromise for the right to make. Just acknowledge that this is an issue. This would be a huge win for them — and it could finally put the GOP on the right side of this issue.