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Lilly Ledbetter and members of Congress with President Barack Obama as he finished signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009.
Lilly Ledbetter and members of Congress with President Barack Obama at the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
Forget rebranding, Republicans are handing Democrats a powerful, base-motivating issue for the midterm elections, in equal pay. Texas attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott says he would have vetoed the Texas version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; Gov. Rick Perry did veto it, and calls equal pay concerns "nonsense." They're not alone. A parade of Republican men is always at the ready to dismiss pay inequities and outright pay discrimination:
In the heat of the last presidential race, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio waved off the Ledbetter Act as "an effort to help trial lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits." Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said the Paycheck Fairness Act would interfere with the free market, comparing it to the way the Soviet Politburo set the price of bread.
Designated Republican ladytalker Katie Packer Gage says sure, sure, Republican men should pretend to care by telling women who don't know any better that since pay discrimination is already illegal, no other protections are needed, but really, Democrats are campaigning on equal pay "to distract women from real issues." Of course, when the subject is abortion, Katie Packer Gage accuses Democrats of wanting to talk about abortion because they "don’t have a good response" on "how they’ll help my pocketbook," so it's almost like she's drumming up business as a Republican consultant by giving quotes about how every issue Democrats mention is just a distraction from the real issues. In any case, voters don't seem to see equal pay as a distraction:
"It's extremely potent," said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. "It's the No. 1 issue that gets single women out to vote, but it also unites men and women."

"We were recently conducting focus groups in Michigan with beefy, 50-year old, white auto workers, and one guy said, 'If the little lady doesn't get paid equally, I have to get overtime, and I can't get that anymore,'" Lake said. "While that might not be the most feminist articulation of the policy, men are wildly in favor of equal pay."

(Overtime pay, by the way, is another thing Democrats are trying to expand while Republicans have tried to limit it.)

So please, Republicans, keep telling us how it's nonsense to even talk about addressing the fact that women are routinely paid less than men. Tell us how you'd veto any bill trying to strengthen existing legal protections for women. Just keep going on television and explaining this one. Be really extra dismissive about it; it is nonsense, after all. The womenfolks should know how you feel.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 09:21 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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