Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) seems to understand he can’t run from his record on women’s issues, so he might as well try to carefully run on his record. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Earlier this month, for example, the Republican incumbent ran an ad touting his support for legislation to “increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options.” Walker carefully avoided the details: the Wisconsin governor supports imposing regulations that close women’s health clinics while forcing women to undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds.
This week, with the campaign nearly over, Team Walker is shifting its attention to pay equity. Laura Bassett reported yesterday:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) released an ad on Tuesday in which his female lieutenant governor applauds his support for equal pay for women – just two years after the governor signed a bill repealing the state’s equal pay law.“Under Scott Walker, workplace discrimination will always be illegal for any reason,” Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch says in the ad. “Mary Burke wants to create more opportunities to sue. We want to create more opportunities for women to succeed.”
This is one of those cases in which the message and the messenger are both badly flawed.
When the Walker campaign complains about “creating more opportunities to sue,” they’re effectively blasting a legal recourse for women who’ve faced discrimination in the workplace.
Indeed, the point of an ad like this is to paper over the governor’s controversial history on the issue Team Walker should probably avoid bringing up.
Katie McDonough’s take rings true.
As we’ve seen in the persistence of the pay gap — currently at 75 cents in Wisconsin — despite progress on equal pay laws, legislation banning discrimination often isn’t enough to fix the problem. As the Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel reported at the time, the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, among its other provisions, allowed women to “plead their cases in the less costly, more accessible state circuit court system, rather than just in federal court.” Put simply, this made it easier for women to earn equal pay.But in the ad, Kleefisch, presumably speaking for Walker as well, called the measure fuel for lawsuits…. Confused by Walker expressing his support for equal pay laws by not supporting equal pay laws? Don’t be. Everyone knows that the best way to support something is to not support it.
As longtime readers may recall, Walker quietly repealed the state’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act – the governor signed the repeal bill in private and issued no public statement – eventually explaining that discrimination claims would only be considered by the state Department of Workforce Development.
In other words, Walker took the power out of the hands of women and their legal representatives, and instead put the power in the hands of … the Walker administration.
Now, for reasons that seem hard to understand, the governor has made this part of his closing message to voters in the final week of the campaign.