It’s Pay Equity Day in the United States, a day intended to raise awareness of wage discrimination American women routinely face in the workforce, and an increasingly divisive issue for Democrats and Republicans.
President Obama will issue two consequential executive orders today intended to help address unequal pay for equal work, which will coincide with Senate Democrats pushing a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. For Republicans, who often deny the pay gap exists, this isn’t an issue in need of policymakers’ attention.
With this in mind, Kirsten Kukowski, a Republican National Committee press secretary, talked to msnbc’s Mika Brzezinski about the issue this morning, arguing that Republicans recognize that the issue exists, but oppose measures that impose an “unnecessary burden” on employers. This, of course, is a common GOP position – even if women receive unequal pay for equal work, policymakers should let the free market sort it out eventually.
But arguments like these are something else entirely.
…Kukowski suggested Democrats’ recent championing of the equal pay issue was more about political timing than a genuine effort to close the gender wage gap, which she said would be better served by confronting the job market and the economy.“What we have seen since the President has been in the White House – they controlled the House, they controlled the Senate, they controlled the White House and they did not do this,” Kukowski said. “Instead, what we see is this creeps up every time the Democrats are struggling with their messaging,” she added.
Obviously, the RNC press secretary is entitled to make her case against paycheck fairness, but in her msnbc appearance, Kukowski’s claim is factually wrong.
The Republican spokesperson told the public that Democrats “did not” pursue the Paycheck Fairness Act when they were in the majority. Kukowski probably should have done a little homework before addressing a national audience about pay equity on Pay Equity Day.
Democrats first brought up the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2010 – when “they controlled the House, they controlled the Senate, they controlled the White House.” It passed the House, despite opposition from 97% of House Republicans.
It then went to the Senate, and when it came to the floor in 2010, it had 58 votes, which wasn’t enough to overcome a Republican filibuster. Here’s the roll call – the bill received exactly zero GOP votes.
Dems tried again in 2012, but again couldn’t overcome Republican opposition.
The RNC’s Kukowski said Democrats didn’t pursue this when they were in the majority, but that’s plainly wrong. She suggested the Paycheck Fairness Act is only “creeping up” for “messaging” reasons, but in practice, Dems have pushed the legislation in three consecutive Congresses. Each effort fell short because of the GOP.
If Republicans want to explain their opposition to the measure, fine, but the debate should at least be based on facts, not fiction.
Updated with related video: