It's been a couple of weeks since Senate Republicans successfully filibustered the Paycheck Fairness Act and the issue has clearly faded from front pages. But even now, some GOP policymakers don't seem to understand how best to address the issue.
Take New Hampshire state Rep. Will Infantine (R), for example, who argued this week that men make more money because they work harder.
"Men by and large make more because of some of the things they do. Their jobs are, by and large, more riskier," Infantine, a former chairman of the Manchester Republican Committee, said on Wednesday, as captured by progressive advocacy group Granite State Progress. "They don't mind working nights and weekends. They don't mind working overtime, or outdoors in the elements." [...] "Men work five or six hours longer a week than women do. When it comes to women and men who own businesses ... women make half of what men do because of flexibility of work, men are more motivated by money than women are," Infantine said, noting that facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics validate his claims. "Guys! I'm not making this stuff up!"
He apparently wasn't persuasive -- the state House voted to give "preliminary approval to the Paycheck Equity Act, a bill seeking to eliminate wage discrimination on the basis of sex."
This would ordinarily be the point at which we explain that the debate over pay equity has focused primarily on unequal pay for equal work and wage discrimination, not wage discrepancies between unrelated fields, but I'll just hope someone has already explained these basics to Mr. Infantine by now.
And while there's no point in making too big a fuss about every random state lawmaker who gets caught saying something dumb about women, there is a larger point to this: Republicans everywhere realized pay equity would be a major topic of debate; they had time to prepare a clear position on the issue; but many GOP officials still don't know what to say.
* Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), the House Republican conference's vice chair, recently argued it's "condescending" towards women to work on policies intended to prevent wage discrimination.
* Phyllis Schlafly argued the pay gap should be larger, not smaller. If the pay gap between men and women were eliminated, she said, "simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate."
* 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.
* Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) wants to know what the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act would do for men and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) sees the debate over wage discrimination as "nonsense."
* The executive director of the Texas Republican Party blamed women for the pay gap, saying they'd be better compensated if they became "better negotiators."
* Fox News' Martha MacCallum dismissed the issue altogether, declaring, "Many women get paid exactly what they're worth."
One would like to think if there are good conservative arguments against progressive proposals on the issue, the right wouldn't be struggling quite this badly.