In recent years, conservative opponents of pay-equity measures have come up with a variety of unpersuasive arguments against women receiving equal pay for equal work. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has added his name to an ignominious list.
For regular readers, the right’s talking points are probably familiar. The executive director of the Texas Republican Party, for example, said women in the workforce would be better compensated if they became “better negotiators.” Fox News’ Martha MacCallum dismissed the issue altogether last year, declaring, “Many women get paid exactly what they’re worth.” Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) argued a while back that it’s “condescending” towards women to even try to prevent wage discrimination.
But the Wisconsin State Journal reported on Walker trying a different tack.
Hillary Clinton’s support for legislation that would address a disparity between what men and women earn is a political tactic to “pit one group of Americans versus another,” Gov. Scott Walker said last week.Walker’s comments were made June 17 on the radio show “Boston Herald Drive” in Boston and published online by the liberal blog Right Wing Watch on Tuesday.
The Right Wing Watch piece, which includes an audio clip, is online here.
The radio host asked the unannounced Republican presidential candidate about Clinton’s advocacy for pay-equity measures, and Walker responded, “[T]his is sadly something that would make her consistent with the president, and that is I believe that the president and now Hillary Clinton tend to think that politically, they do better if they pit one group of Americans versus another.”
A campaign spokesperson added soon after that the governor believes Democrats like President Obama and Hillary Clinton are “being divisive on an important issue instead of working to provide solutions for Americans.”
The Wisconsin governor, the staffer said, ”fully supports equal pay for equal work,” though he apparently opposes policy measures that would help ensure this goal.
As arguments go, this is all very hard to take seriously. Taking steps to guarantee that women receive equal pay for equal work does not, in reality, “pit one group of Americans versus another.” By Walker’s reasoning, the road to unity is based on policymakers ignoring an injustice.
That doesn’t make any sense.
As for the notion that Democrats should be “working to provide solutions,” that’s precisely the point – Dems keep proposing solutions like the Paycheck Fairness Act, which keep running into fierce and unyielding Republican opposition.
The GOP governor’s record on the issue probably offered a big hint this argument was coming – three years ago, Walker repealed a state law that “gave workers more power to take action against unfair wage disparities in state court, rather than federal court where the costs are higher. He’s dismissed the law as simply giving women ‘more opportunity to sue’ and said criticism of his repeal is a ‘bogus issue.’”