In recent months, when the Republicans’ “war on women” comes to mind, we generally think of issues related to health care and reproductive rights: contraception access; Planned Parenthood funding; “Personhood” amendments; state-mandated, medically-unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds; etc.
But as we saw in Wisconsin yesterday, these attacks on women’s interests are even broader in scope.
A Wisconsin law that made it easier for victims of wage discrimination to have their day in court was repealed on Thursday, after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) quietly signed the bill.
The 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act was meant to deter employers from discriminating against certain groups by giving workers more avenues via which to press charges. Among other provisions, it allows individuals to plead their cases in the less costly, more accessible state circuit court system, rather than just in federal court.
Walker and Republican state lawmakers decided to roll back the equal-pay law, with the governor quietly signing this into law yesterday. (There were no public remarks, no media acknowledgement of the bill being signed, and no announcement about what had happened until the next day.)
This, not surprisingly, isn’t going over well among Wisconsin progressives, and it’s bound to play a role in this summer’s recall election, but given the larger political circumstances, it’s also the kind of development that captures national attention.
Indeed, Obama campaign spokesperson Lis Smith told Greg Sargent that Walker has been joined at the hip by none other than Mitt Romney, who, Smith argued, should have an opinion on the Wisconsin governor’s efforts. “Does Romney think women should have ability to take their bosses to court to get the same pay as their male coworkers?” she asked. “Or does he stand with Governor Walker against this?”
Had Romney not gone to such lengths to connect himself to Walker – the likely Republican nominee called the Wisconsin governor a “hero” and a “man of courage” – it might be easier for Romney to distance himself from Walker’s right-wing agenda.
But since the two are such good pals, and since Romney and his party have already alienated women so severely, it’s not unreasonable to press the GOP frontrunner on his “hero’s” indifference to women who face wage discrimination.