6 Infuriating Things Lawmakers Have Said About Equal Pay For Women

This Tuesday is Equal Pay Day, a "holiday" that celebrates how far into a calendar year the average woman has to work in order to make an equivalent salary to her male counterpart. It's based on U.S. Census figures that show how women, on average, are only paid 78 cents to each dollar earned by a man, a gap that can result in lifetime gender deficits in the six- to seven-figure range. The "78 cents" figure is a slightly imprecise one — it's based on the average salaries of men and women, and speaks as much to wage disparity as it does to how "women's work" is valued compared to the Masters of the Universe-style occupations dominated by men. But the way that some politicians start sputtering when the idea of guaranteeing women and men the same wage is introduced, you'd think people were trying to replace the Constitution with the lyrics to "Puff, The Magic Dragon." Here are six silly statements sparked by the equal pay debate.
1. "You could argue that money is more important for men."
Oh, do go on, Wisconsin state senator Glenn Grothman! "I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious," the senator told The Daily Beast after the repeal of the state's equal pay bill But, but, aren't women supposed to know the price of things like shoes? 2. "The minute you set up a fairness czar to determine what wages are, you give away freedom."
Rand Paul's issues with women have always served as a backdrop to his politicking, but in 2012 he brought together the idea of guaranteeing women equal pay and the spectre of Communism in a way that was fairly breathtaking. "In the Soviet Union," he declared to a group of Capitol Hill reporters, "the Politburo decided the price of bread, and they either had no bread or too much bread. So setting prices or wages by the government is always a bad idea." In Soviet Russia, market makes decisions for you? Oh wait, that's what Paul thinks is great about America: "The market just makes decisions on your ability to do your job," he said.
3. "If you look at it, women are extremely busy."
Texan Cari Christman is the executive director of Red State Women, a PAC formed in 2014 to support now-Governor Greg Abbott. In 2014 she appeared on the Dallas TV station WFAA to talk about why Republicans oppose the Ledbetter Act, and "We lead busy lives, whether working professionally, whether working from home, and times are extremely busy," she said. And she went on: "It's a busy cycle for women, and we've got a lot to juggle. So when we look at this issue we think, what's practical? We want more access to jobs. We want to be able to get a higher education degree at the same time we're working or raising a family." Why protections regarding wages would somehow make women more "busy" was unclear; one would think that a guarantee of equal wages would at least lighten the money-worry load. 4. "We don't think America suffers from a lack of litigation."
Opponents of equal-pay legislation into law have focused on what they see as the law's most horrifying aspect: Lawsuits! In 2012, Republican senator Mitch McConnell defended the GOP's party-line vote against an equal-pay bill by saying, essentially, more lawsuits would merely gum up the works. And those works were pretty gummy already! "We have a jobless problem. We have a debt problem. We have a deficit problem. We got a lot of problems. Not enough lawsuits is not one of them," he declared. Ah, it's great when men decide what the real problems are. 5. “Equal pay for the same work, not for equal work – I think that's the problem with it. I think there's a definition issue.”
Jeb Bush brings the incoherence, this time when confronted with a simple statement about whether or not Michigan Republican Terri Lynn Land, who lost her candidacy for the Senate last year, should support the Equal Pay Act. It would appear that frolicking with the English language runs in the family.
6. "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.”
In case you were wondering about what former candidate Land thought of all this, watch the video below where she's talking about why women can't concern themselves with silly things like numbers — she has kids, just like, apparently, every other woman in Gilead — whoops, I mean the U.S. of A. — today.  

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