This week, Senate Republicans voted to block Democratic legislation designed to reduce the persistent pay gap between genders in the workplace. The bill would boost protections for women filing gender-discrimination lawsuits, and put the onus on employers to prove that wage disparities between men and women (who typically earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns) are not gender-related. Democrats say the law is needed, but some see the bill as an electoral strategy to persuade voters that Republicans are waging a "War on Women." The GOP says the bill would only lead to a job-killing flood of litigation against businesses. Will the GOP regret that stance?
Yes. The GOP just gave Democrats a gift: Democrats see the vote as a "golden opportunity to strengthen their advantage with women voters ahead of the election," says Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo. Republicans did their best to cast the vote as a political stunt, so they won't "be seen as rooting against the cause of equal pay." But their unanimous opposition paints the party as a relic of the past, still struggling with women's issues. Female voters will take notice.
"Republicans block Dems' equal pay for women bill"
No. Voters will see through this election-year ploy: "Three cheers for the Senate filibuster," says The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Democrats are playing partisan games with this utterly unnecessary bill: After all, the U.S. already has plenty of laws prohibiting gender-pay discrimination. Furthermore, the bill "ought to be called the 'Trial Lawyer Paycheck Act,' since it is a recipe for a class-action boom" that will hurt business profits and reduce pay across the board. This type of overreaching legislation "is precisely the reason that voters elected more Republicans in 2010."
"The trial lawyer paycheck act"
Actually, more gender-discrimination suits are needed: Republicans argue that the bill would lead to an "unnecessary and soul-crushing number of lawsuits against employers," but the country actually needs far more pay-gap suits, says Bryce Covert at Forbes. Studies "have found no other way to explain at least some of the gap than discrimination," and yet the number of gender-discrimination cases are falling. Only last year, the Supreme Court "knocked down a suit against Walmart, handing down a decision that makes it even harder to bring these cases." In the "face of a gap that is only getting worse, it would seem the number of cases could stand to get a boost."
"Republicans are wrong: We need more equal pay litigation, not less"