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“Women Deserve Better”: Discrimination Is The Best Explanation For The Difference In Pay

Just two days ago President Obama made news in Pittsburgh by stating that equal pay for equal work not only benefits women, but also benefits families. In April, he signed an executive order that allows federal workers to share salary information and requires federal contractors to disclose more information about what their employees earn. On June 23, the Obama Administration will host a summit in Washington D.C. that focuses on creating a 21st century workplace, which includes equal pay for equal work.

The fact that this is still a topic that is making headlines in 2014 is alarming.

Almost half of the American workforce is female. In more and more situations, women are the primary breadwinners in their families. Pay disparity doesn’t just hurt women. It hurts their kids and their families. It hurts all Americans.

Opponents of equal pay have tried many times to explain away the wage gap. The most common argument they offer is that it simply does not exist. Opponents say that pay disparity based on gender is not based on sexism or discrimination, but rather on the choices that women make in terms of education, hours, and children. They argue that it is the biological and social forces that lead to a pay gap and therefore there is no point in pushing through legislation that could not possibly combat these realities. Opponents claim that discrimination isn’t the cause of the pay gap and that laws combating discrimination are not the solution.

Thankfully, the modern workplace has advanced beyond Mad Men-style sexism. However, this does not mean that discrimination is no longer a factor.

Senior advisers at the Department of Labor agree, “Discrimination is the best explanation of the remaining difference in pay.” Economists across the political spectrum attribute at least 40 percent of the pay gap to discrimination, not differences between workers or their jobs.

Sexual discrimination and the pay gap it causes are real problems and must be addressed.

Women earn an average 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, less if they are also a minority. In some professions, this gap is smaller. In others it’s wider. But no matter what the profession, even if it’s ‘only‘ a loss of 10 cents on the dollar, the gap is there, and it is solely related to the gender of the worker.

The solution is to elect representatives who recognize that equal work deserves equal pay, and that family wages are more important than corporate earnings. Just look at who voted for the Lily Ledbetter Act of 2009. If your representative voted ‘Nay‘, they believe that women should be paid less than men. Let’s get these ‘Mad Men’ out of office and allow common sense to prevail.

We are a nation founded on equality, built and sustained by women as well as men. Gender discrimination is completely and categorically unacceptable. Not only have women earned equal pay, they deserve it.

 

By: Jason Ritchie, The Huffington Post Blog, June 19, 2014

June 23, 2014 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Gender Gap, Women | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“When Stupid Goes Unchallenged”: Dim And Divisive Rand Paul Self-Destructs, Again

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is what you get when traditional and corrosive American nepotism meets the 21st century GOP echo chamber: a pampered princeling whose dumb ideas have never been challenged by reality.

If you missed Ron Paul’s son on “Meet the Press” Sunday, go watch it. I am honestly not sure what was most ridiculous or offensive: attacking Hillary Clinton for something her husband did, or declaring that “if there was a war on women, I think they won.”

Leave that question aside for a moment. Paul’s performance was most interesting for the window it gave us into his character, as the indulged but slightly dim scion of an eccentric political family whose every utterance, all his life, has been treated as important. At some points in interviews with the freshman senator, including this one, you can see the wheels turning in his head, maybe a little slowly, as he winds up to deliver what he thinks is a political humdinger. It’s the oily crazy of Rand Paul being adorably Rand Paul: saying what he thinks is brave and leader-like, but that thing turns out to be simply nutty.

Then the media collectively scrunches its forehead and tries to decide if he’s brave or nutty.

So it was with “Meet the Press” Sunday. Paul obviously set out to say cleverly what Mike Huckabee said stupidly: Republicans aren’t going to take the Democrats’ “war on women” rhetoric lying down, especially if they’re facing a Democratic woman running for president in 2016. You can almost see behind his eyes as he thinks to himself: “I’ve got it: I’ll throw a haymaker at Hillary Clinton for something stupid her husband did almost 20 years ago!”

Oh, and the man who opposed the Lilly Ledbetter pay equity act had the stones to frame his critique of President Clinton’s long-ago relationship with Monica Lewinsky as support for workplace laws supporting women.

One of the workplace laws and rules that I think are good is that bosses shouldn’t prey on young interns in their office. And I think really the media seems to be — have given President Clinton a pass on this. He took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his office. There is no excuse for that. And that is predatory behavior, and it should — it should be something — we shouldn’t want to associate with people who would take advantage of a young girl in his office… I mean, really — and then they have the gall to stand up and say Republicans are having a war on women? So yes, I think it’s a factor.

Though Paul allowed that her husband’s behavior is “not Hillary’s fault,” he added, “with regard to the Clintons, sometimes it’s hard to separate one from the other.”

But wait, there was more. He came right at that whole war on women thing, echoing men’s rights advocates everywhere by declaring that “if there was a war on women, I think they won.” Evidence? “The women in my family are doing great.”

It’s not defending President Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky to marvel at Paul’s raising it all again. Forget the fact that the issue was litigated 15 years ago, and every time Republicans went at Clinton, his public approval numbers went higher. Also forget that Paul’s claim that “the media seems to have given President Clinton a pass on this” is demonstrably false and idiotic. The man was impeached, and an awful lot of mainstream journalists shamed themselves by being stenographers for Kenneth Starr.

But on the self-pitying right, you can never lose by blaming the media for coddling awful Democrats. Paul’s brilliant declaration about women winning the war on women was likewise fact-challenged and paranoid. “I don’t see so much that women are downtrodden. I see women rising up and doing great things,” he told David Gregory. “In fact, I worry about our young men sometimes because I think the women are out-competing the men in our world.”

Never mind that women still make less than men and are more likely to live in poverty. Even more cruelly, the man who opposes legal abortion and the contraception-coverage mandate also suggested last Thursday that women who have “too many” children should lose welfare support. “Maybe we have to say, ‘Enough’s enough, you shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount,’” Paul said Thursday. He backed off a bit on CNN Sunday morning, telling Candy Crowley: “I mused about how you’d have a government policy, but I actually came down saying it would be very difficult to have a government policy,” Paul said.

Only last week reasonably smart people declared that Paul was the beneficiary of Chris Christie’s implosion. The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart called him the new “front-runner,” and Andrew Sullivan endorsed Beinart’s piece, tweeting, “Those who dismiss Rand Paul’s chances are missing something, I think — a revival of true small-gov’t conservatism.”

I want to get this straight: I know someone is going to win the Republican nomination for president in 2016. The party may be headed toward demographic extinction, but they’re not going to forfeit the election. They’ll nominate somebody. I just can’t see it being any of the people regularly mentioned, as the party’s supposedly “deep bench” of candidates splinters.

I could be wrong. On “Morning Joe” Mark Halperin suggested Paul might have advanced his candidacy by proving he’ll attack the Clintons and go on the offensive on the Democrats’ “war on women” claims. He’s definitely on the offensive. Very offensive.

Of course Peter Beinart left himself many outs in his Paul-as-front-runner piece, noting the freshman senator’s plagiarism and neo-Confederacy problems and adding: “Who knows what the media will turn up when the real vetting that greets a presidential candidate begins?”

He should have added: And who knows what will happen the next time the candidate opens his mouth?

 

By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, January 27, 2014

January 28, 2014 Posted by | Rand Paul, War On Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Another Case Of Willful Deception”: Mitch McConnell Shouldn’t Brag About Supporting Bills He Opposed

Several weeks ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) got caught misleading Kentucky voters about his record on the Violence Against Women Act. This morning, he was even more brazen on the subject (via Joe Sonka).

A press release distributed by Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) campaign at a “Women for Team Mitch” event on Friday brags about the Senate Minority Leader’s support for the Violence Against Women Act, even though McConnell voted against the measure in 19942012, and 2013.

“Mitch was the co-sponsor of the original Violence Against Women Act — and continues to advocate for stronger polices to protect women. I am proud to call him my senator,” the document quotes a voter as saying.

For months, a variety of congressional Republicans have pretended to support the Violence Against Women Act, even after they voted against it, hoping voters and reporters wouldn’t know the difference.

But the fact that McConnell has a lot of company doesn’t make this any better. His campaign is now trying to give voters the impression that he’s championed VAWA, but in reality, McConnell has voted against it repeatedly. Indeed, he voted against it even when he knew with certainty it would pass — suggesting he opposed the law just to make a point about the depth and seriousness of his opposition.

As for the notion that McConnell “continues to advocate for stronger polices to protect women,” let’s also not forget that the Senate Minority Leader voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

If McConnell wants to defend his record, fine. If he wants Kentuckians to find merit in the votes he cast, the senator is welcome to make his case. But the fact that he sees willful deception as the appropriate course is a problem.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 30, 2013

August 31, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Tokenism And Condescending Rhetoric”: The RNC’s Final Insult To Women

On Thursday, from both inside and outside the Republican National Convention, Republicans simultaneously tried to woo women voters while opposing essential women’s rights.

The RNC largely ignored social issues, but socially conservative organizations held many events outside of the RNC security perimeter. On Thursday afternoon, two such groups that are composed solely of women—Concerned Women for America and the Susan B. Anthony List—honored anti–abortion rights female politicians in a restaurant upstairs from the Hooters just past the RNC security gate.

The common theme of the various politicians’ remarks was that the truly feminist position is to oppose reproductive freedom. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called President Obama, “the most anti-woman, anti-life president in history.” In essence, the argument is that women are mothers and fetuses are babies, so legalized abortion leads to widespread infanticide, and that is disrespectful to women.

But those were just some of the provocative statements made. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) claimed that, “the president is doing everything in his power to radically expand abortions in this country.”

Another persistent theme was that society must protect the defenseless. But the interest in doing so only lasts until they exit the womb. “How we treat the most vulnerable among us is a reflection of who we are,” said Ayotte. She did not mean that we should feed the hungry or house the homeless, only that we should not allow abortions. Similarly, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, said that her newborn niece’s Down Syndrome has reified her commitment to opposing abortion. “It breaks my heart to think how many people would not have chosen to keep that precious angel,” said Bondi.

Bondi gave a speech with Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens at the RNC on the evils of healthcare reform that was widely panned for its awkward, flat delivery. After the event on Thursday I buttonholed Bondi and asked her how she responds to disability rights groups that all support healthcare reform. If she does not believe in preventing insurers from excluding people with prior conditions and expanding Medicaid, I wondered, how does she propose to provide healthcare for disabled people who may be less fortunate than her niece? The answer? She doesn’t. “Our insurance system isn’t perfect,” conceded Bondi. “But my niece has incredible insurance. I haven’t experienced [inadequate coverage] at all.” That, of course, is no answer at all.

In his acceptance speech on Thursday night, Romney followed up on the RNC’s week-long theme of appealing to women through tokenism and condescending rhetoric. Here is what he had to say about his mother and how her foray into electoral politics shaped his own behavior:

My mom and dad were true partners, a life lesson that shaped me by everyday example. When my mom ran for the Senate, my dad was there for her every step of the way. I can still hear her saying in her beautiful voice, “Why should women have any less say than men, about the great decisions facing our nation?”

I wish she could have been here at the convention and heard leaders like Governor Mary Fallin, Governor Nikki Haley, Governor Susana Martinez, Senator Kelly Ayotte and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

As governor of Massachusetts, I chose a woman lieutenant governor, a woman chief of staff, half of my cabinet and senior officials were women, and in business, I mentored and supported great women leaders who went on to run great companies.

That’s the tokenism. Everything Romney said about appointing women is good, but none of it is a substitute for policy. The number of women Romney appointed in Massachusetts would be a rounding error on the total workforce in the state. The question is whether Romney supports policies that would help all women obtain equal treatment in the workplace. His record on that is mixed at best. Although his campaign said he would not appeal the the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, they initially waffled on it. And he refuses to say whether he would support the Paycheck Fairness Act, a Democratic bill in Congress that would crack down on pay disparities between men and women. Compared to President Obama, Romney is simply not a leader on gender equality. Planning your pregnancies is also essential to women’s ability to manage their careers, and Romney’s policies would create obstacles to that as well. He opposes abortion rights and requiring hospitals and health insurance companies to provide access to contraception.

Romney’s efforts to substitute hiring women for supporting their legal equality is reminiscent of his misleading answer to a debate question on gay rights. He said he opposes discrimination and hired openly gay employees. Hiring gay employees means you do not practice discrimination, but it does not mean you actually oppose discrimination. To do so would require pledging to sign into a law bill that would protect them from being discriminated against by employers who are not inclined to be as kind as Romney. And that is something Romney opposes.

Then there was Romney’s grossly patronizing paean to stay-at-home mothers, in the person of his privileged wife. Recalling their early years of marriage, Romney said:

Those days were toughest on Ann, of course. She was heroic. Five boys, with our families a long way away. I had to travel a lot for my job then and I’d call and try to offer support. But every mom knows that doesn’t help get the homework done or the kids out the door to school.

I knew that her job as a mom was harder than mine. And I knew without question, that her job as a mom was a lot more important than mine. And as America saw Tuesday night, Ann would have succeeded at anything she wanted to.

As Matthew Yglesias pointed out in Slate, this makes no sense. If Ann’s job was harder and more important than Mitt’s, why is Mitt the one running for president? And if raising kids is more important than working in a job, why did Romney earlier tout his record of appointing women to high office?

His comments also raise a number of unpleasant questions. Are women who work outside of the home engaged in less important work than stay-at-home moms? If so, Romney is denigrating the majority of American mothers. And why does he create this false dichotomy of more and less important jobs? Families need money and they need childcare. Some, such as the Romneys, are fortunate to get enough of the former from one parent that the other can focus full-time on providing the latter. As is typical of the Romneys, they seem blissfully unaware of their own class privilege. And since Romney also blasted Obama for supposedly undermining the work requirements in welfare reform, he is contradicting himself. If the best thing for Ann to do was to stay at home with her children, why is that not the case for single mothers on welfare? If Mitt believes that Ann’s child-rearing was harder and more important than his job in private equity, then why does he not believe that unemployed single mothers are also engaged in harder, more important work than he? Why does he want them to abandon that work for, say, menial jobs in the service economy? And why is he running for president instead of finding the welfare recipient with the most children and nominating her?

Romney’s appeals to women make no sense because his positions are not good for women. Therefore, he, like Republican women, tries to spin policies that would limit women’s rights as being in their best interest. It’s an impressive feat of mental dexterity, but it’s a far less honest approach than making the more straightforward “traditional family values” argument that Republicans used to rely upon. They’ve realized that won’t work, but this probably won’t either.

 

By: Ben Adler, The Nation, September 3, 2012

September 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Putting The Pieces Together”: Mitt Romney Talking About What He Will And Won’t Talk About

Among politicians, as among athletes or practitioners of a hundred other arts, there are “naturals,” people who have an instinctive feel for how their endeavor ought to be done and display an effortless level of skill. Then there are those who have less of an instinctive feel for it but work hard to master the various components until they become the closest approximation of the natural as possible. Bill Clinton, for instance, would be in the first category, while Hillary Clinton would be in the second category. Then there are people like Mitt Romney, who not only isn’t a natural but can’t quite seem to put all the pieces of being a candidate together.

Look, for instance, at this exchange from an interview Romney did with ABC’s Diane Sawyer:

DIANE SAWYER: I want to talk about a couple of issues relating to women. This 19 point difference between you and the president on women. Here are some specific questions. If you were president– you had been president– would you have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Law?

MITT ROMNEY: It’s certainly a piece of legislation I have no intend– intention of changing. I wasn’t there three years ago–

DIANE SAWYER: But would you have signed it?

MITT ROMNEY: –so I– I’m not going to go back and look at all the prior laws and say had I been there which ones would I have supported and signed, but I certainly support equal pay for women and– and have no intention of changing that law, don’t think there’s a reason to.

This is something Romney has done before: talking about what he will and won’t talk about, instead of just talking about the thing he wants to talk about (for instance, when he gets uncomfortable questions about Mormonism, he tends to say things like “I’m sorry, we’re just not going to have a discussion about religion in my view”). He has a meta-communication problem. It pulls him outside the moment, making him an observer of his own campaign. It’s a subtle thing, but it reinforces the idea of Romney as a distant, overly analytical, and ultimately unknowable figure. As every aspiring writer learns in their first writing workshop, the first rule of storytelling is “Don’t tell ’em, show ’em.” Until now, Romney hasn’t found a way to show Americans much; he’s much more comfortable just telling us.

Unfortunately for him, it isn’t as though there is some kind of dramatic change Romney could make to address this basic problem. If he tries, he might start singing “America the Beautiful” again, and lord knows nobody wants that.

 

By: Paul Waldman, The American Prospect, April 17, 2012

April 18, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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