Last week, Pete Hoekstra, the Republicans’ U.S. Senate hopeful in Michigan, called the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay law “a nuisance” that should be stripped from the books. This week in New Hampshire, state Republican Party Executive Director Tory Mazzola, a top Romney campaign, said the law is little more than “a handout to trial lawyers.”
Other surrogates for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, rushed out to defend Mitt Romney’s record on women’s issues, despite their opposition to the Ledbetter law.
And then there’s Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who quietly repealed a state version of the Fair Pay law two weeks ago, and explained his reasoning yesterday.
Walker defended the repeal in an interview Tuesday with WLUK-TV, saying the Equal Pay Enforcement Act had essentially been nothing but a boon for trial lawyers. His comments came on Equal Pay Day 2012, the day when a typical woman’s earnings catch the pay of male counterparts in 2011.
“In the past, lawyers could clog up the legal system,” Walker said. “Instead, the state Department of Workforce Development gets to be the one that ultimately can put people back and give them up to two years back pay if there is reason to believe there was pay discrimination in the workforce.”
So, Walker has decided to take the power out of the hands of women and their legal representatives, and instead put the power in the hands of … the Walker administration.
For her part, Ledbetter herself spoke up yesterday, and doesn’t seem impressed with GOP arguments. “I am but one woman with one story, but there are thousands of women with the same story, all of whom believe equal pay for equal work is necessary,” she said. “This isn’t about a handout to trial lawyers. This is about a piece of legislation and an ideal that can make a difference for my daughter, my granddaughter, and women across this nation.”
That all of this is happening the same week as Equal Pay Day adds an unfortunate irony to the debate.