Republican opponents of equal-pay measures have known for weeks that today was coming. It’s a punch that Democrats were only too pleased to telegraph – they planned to use Equal Pay Day to highlight the fact that women in the U.S. workforce don’t receive equal pay for equal work, and Dems are prepared to do something about it.
But despite the foreknowledge, leading GOP officials apparently couldn’t come up with compelling talking points. Take Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), the House Republican conference’s vice chair, for example.
Democrats’ push for pay equity between men and women is “condescending,” one of the top women in the House Republican leadership argued Tuesday, suggesting that the campaign for equal pay for equal work reflects a lack of understanding of women’s contributions to the workforce. […]“Some folks don’t understand that women have become an extremely valuable part of the workforce today on their own merit, not because the government mandated it,” Jenkins said.
And some folks don’t understand that equal-pay measures are government mandates to require that women become valuable parts of the workforce. It’s not that complicated: women often receive unequal pay for equal work, so policymakers are weighing possible solutions. In what universe is it “condescending” to take steps to prevent discrimination against women?
Making matters slightly worse, American Bridge 21st Century PAC released a video today of Michigan’s Terri Lynn Land, the Republicans’ U.S. Senate hopeful, arguing, “Well, we all like to be paid more and that’s great. But the reality is that women have a different lifestyle. They have kids, they have to take them to get dentists’ appointments, doctors’ appointments all those kinds of things, and they’re more interested in flexibility in a job than pay.” [Update: An extended version of the clip with more context is availale here.]
So, Land not only sees women in traditional gender roles, but is also convinced that women aren’t especially concerned with receiving unequal pay for equal work – because “women have a different lifestyle.”
Adding insult to injury, when msnbc’s Chris Jansing asked Republican National Committee Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski what policies her party would support to improve pay equity, Kukowski couldn’t think of anything.
And to think the gender gap is keeping Republicans from winning more elections.
Meanwhile, House GOP leaders think they’ve discovered a new excuse to oppose proposals like the Paycheck Fairness Act.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, criticized the White House for its own gender pay gap. News broke earlier this week that female White House staffers make 12% less than men in the White House.“I’m seeing the news this morning and it seems that the White House is having a little problem on this themselves,” Cantor told reporters.
First, White House salaries for women are far better than the national average and the gap does not reflect unequal pay for equal work.
Second, this White House is far better on this front than congressional Republicans and the previous administration.
But even putting aside these relevant details, if Cantor thinks it’s a “problem” when women earn less than men, why is it that he and his party are so unyielding in their opposition to measures like the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?
Pointing to a pay gap as a reason to ignore pay gaps is incoherent.