August 4 2014
Last week Republican lawmakers put forward a package of bills focused on improving the economic standing of women and their families.
Part of this effort was an attempt to find some common ground on the issue of pay equity. And Rep. McMorris Rodgers included a bill that prevents the retaliation against employees who might inquire about equal pay.
For the GOP, this seemed like low-hanging fruit because the fact is retaliation is already against the law. As the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states, “all of the laws we enforce make it illegal to fire, demote, harass, or otherwise ‘retaliate’ against people (applicants or employees) because they filed a charge of discrimination, because they complained to their employer or other covered entity about discrimination on the job, or because they participated in an employment discrimination proceeding (such as an investigation or lawsuit).”
Now I admit it’s much harder to be a lawmaker and have to appeal to different constituencies than in my position, where I can criticize freely; but the GOP is making a mistake. As I warned to many in private, if Republicans try to meet Democrats half-way on the issue of the so-called pay-gap, it simply says the right has conceded the point on the wage gap, which everyone knows is grossly overstated.
In an article in Salon over the weekend, Allegra Kirkland says just that: “Yet now, it seems, they are changing their tune and adopting a cornerstone of the Democratic economic agenda as their own.” (Charlotte addressed a different aspect of the Kirkland article here.)
The Right has a serious problem connecting with women – and they need to do a far better job explaining how limited government policies in health care, education, the workplace and elsewhere will improve the lives of women and their families. But trying to go half-way on issues like equal pay are doomed to fail. In fact, it doesn’t put out the fire for more government in the name of protecting women, it fuels it.
Even if Republicans lie down and pass a full-fledged, unadulterated Paycheck Fairness Act like Democrats would like, does anyone think for a second the Left will lay off on the “War on Women” attacks? Heck no: They’ll double-down.