Republicans have been trying desperately to reframe the GOP’s relentless assault on women’s rights as a war being waged on women by Democrats.
Last week’s shenanigans with PRENDA (the “don’t abort all the girls” bill) was a perfect example. The wingnuts claim that President Obama and the Democrats blocked PRENDA (Pregnancy Non-Discrimination Act) which proves that it’s really Democrats who hate women because shut up that’s why. (Of course, this is nonsense. As I wrote last week, PRENDA is about further divesting women of their right to make decisions about their own bodies, and as asiangrrlMN wrote last week, PRENDA employs vicious stereotypes about Asian-American women to do so.)
Such claims about a war on women being waged by Democrats don’t pass the smell test, but that hasn’t stopped the Romney-led Republicans from trotting out their finest women to convince Americans that the “War on Women” is like the “War on Caterpillars” — a figment of Democrats’ imagination. They have called upon Nikki Haley, Nikki Haley (again!), Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and even Campbell Brown to make the case that the war on women is fake, even as Republicans float the idea of criminal charges for women who terminate pregnancies.
So here’s the deal: Tomorrow’s Senate vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act offers the GOP to put its money where its collective mouth is when it comes to equal rights for women. From Zerlina Maxwell at Ebony:
The GOP “War on Women” has taken many forms but Senate Democrats are now determined to fight back, pushing for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) which is legislation that protects women who sue when they discover they are being paid less than their male counterparts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said the vote will take place on Monday, June 4th (now said to be Tuesday, June 5th).
In an ideal world, the PFA wouldn’t cause a Democrat vs. Republican fight, as it is an obvious necessity and a step toward equality for all citizens. But in this hyper-partisan environment, anything that seeks to make the playing field more level for women becomes a battle The PFA is supposed to help end pay discrimination for women by closing loopholes that make it very difficult to enforce fair pay labor laws. Legislation would prohibit employer retaliation, allow workers to join class action lawsuits, as well as ensure that the victims received back pay from discriminatory employers. For some women the difference in pay for a man that does the same job can add up to $24,000 dollars a year in lost wages and nearly $431,000 over the course of a lifetime.
Here’s the thing: as it stands now the Senate vote on the PFA is going to be very close—but it is not expected to pass. The importance of the act in framing the debate in key Senate races however cannot be understated. For example, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has promised to make this fight to pay equity a central tenet of her re-election campaign. Another key Senate race where the PFA will take center stage is the race to watch in Massachusetts between Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) and Harvard Law Professor and democratic darling Elizabeth Warren. In 2010, Senator Brown voted against a previous component of PFA and that vote will allow Warren to attack him hard for being against pay equity at a time when the war on women is in full swing.
President Obama has waded into the fight, “This is more than just about fairness. Women are the breadwinners for a lot of families and if they’re making less than men do for the same work, families are going to have to get by for less money.”
Governor Romney, if you’ll recall, didn’t even know what the Lilly Ledbetter Act was, and later claimed that “he wouldn’t repeal it.” Gee whiz, Mittens. Thanks ever so much.
And, let’s not forget that GOP golden child Scott Walker repealed Wisconsin’s Fair Pay Act (which is why you should pick up a phone right now and help the recall effort.)
It’s put up or shut up time for the GOP.
Contact your Senators and ask them to support equal pay. Click here for more information.