Cross posted from CWA's Resistance Growing blog:
The battle for women voters stepped into the spotlight during last night’s debate when audience member Katherine Fenton asked, “In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?”
President Obama hit this one out of the park. He told stories about being raised by a single mom and his grandmother, who worked her way up to become vice president at a local bank, only to hit the glass ceiling. Obama pointed out that the first bill he signed in office was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which made it easier for workers to fight pay discrimination. “This is not just a women's issue. This is a family issue. This is a middle-class issue. And that's why we've got to fight for it,” he said.
Mitt Romney used the opportunity to highlight his cabinet picks as the governor of Massachusetts:
And I said, well, gosh, can't we — can't we find some — some women that are also qualified? And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks?’ And I brought us whole binders full of — of women.
Binders full of women? The Internet peanut gallery celebrated with a full-on counterattack complete with @RomneysBinder, parody Facebook pages and a Tumblr dedicated to women stuck in Trapper Keepers. American Bridge 21st Century PAC snapped up the URL and has already launched a full website, www.bindersfullofwomen.com, about why Romney is bad for women.
Also, the binders story isn’t even true. According to the Boston Phoenix, outside groups put together those binders:
What actually happened was that in 2002 -- prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration -- a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.
Not to mention that fewer senior positions went to women:
Secondly, a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office.)
The Boston Globe found that Romney’s private sector record was equally dismal, as “Romney did not have any women partners as CEO of Bain Capital during the 1980s and 1990s.”
More important, Romney didn’t even answer the question. And Obama didn’t let Romney slide, jumping in to say, “Katherine, I just want to point out that when Governor Romney's campaign was asked about the Lilly Ledbetter bill, whether he supported it, he said, I'll get back to you. And that's not the kind of advocacy that women need in any economy.”
It’s a statement that PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter has rated mostly true – thanks to a bit of emergency clarification on Romney’s part.
For working families, the choice is clear.