If you liked Reagan, the odds are you don’t think McCain is too old to be president. And if you liked Reagan, the reason he gave for opposing a bill that would ensure women equal pay for equal work might even make sense to you. Here’s McCain, ‘reasoning’:

“I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what’s being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems,” the expected GOP presidential nominee told reporters. “This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system.” (AP)

You know what, I don’t even know where to start with this. For one thing, I can’t believe this is even an issue in the 21st Century. For another, it’s hard to type when your hands are shaking with fury.

So let’s hear from Nancy Pelosi, who concisely summarized the implication of the Republicans’ successful override:

The Ledbetter legislation, which the House proudly passed last year, provides a remedy for women and men who have been victims of pay discrimination. It corrects a Supreme Court decision that severely restricted the right of workers to have their day in court.

Senate Republicans blocked this legislation just one day after we recognized Equal Pay Day. Women make just 77 cents to each man’s dollar, and in an uncertain economy, equal pay for equal work is about daily survival for millions.

Republicans have once again halted the efforts of the New Direction Congress on behalf of justice and equality. They stand only with the President in blocking this legislation for pay equity and against discrimination. These are fundamental differences in values, and Americans now know who supports equal pay for equal work, and who does not.

Down with Tyranny provides some further background:

The House already passed [the Ledbetter legislation] by a healthy margin. And a nice majority favored it in the Senate today. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act had two Republican co-sponsors and managed to win 56 votes in the Senate, including every single Democrat and both independents. McCain ducked the vote, of course– what a maverick, what a moderate, what a hero– but only 42 Republican wingnuts voted against equality for women. But because…Mitch…McConnell led the forces of reaction in a filibuster, the bill was killed– without ever actually getting a chance to be voted on. You need 60 votes to break a filibuster. (emphasis added)

So let’s hear a bit more from ‘moderate’ McCain. Though he couldn’t be bothered to vote, “McCain stated his opposition to the bill as he campaigned in rural eastern Kentucky, where poverty is worse among women than men.” (AP) If he can’t bring himself to support this legislation because he can’t bear the thought of a lot of litigious women suing employers who have discriminated against them, what does he propose to do to help struggling mothers of families who are trying to provide their children with food and shelter? Here’s what he said:

The Arizona senator said he was familiar with the disparity but that there are better ways to help women find better paying jobs….

"They need the education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else," McCain said. "And it’s hard for them to leave their families
when they don’t have somebody to take care of them.

"It’s a vicious cycle that’s affecting women, particularly in a part of the country like this, where mining is the mainstay; traditionally, women have not gone into that line of work, to say the least."  (AP

Education? Training? Education and training to do what, specifically? What on earth does this even mean?  How on earth will ‘education and training’ make up for the difference in pay in a given line of work? Inequality in pay for the same work is a completely different problem from the lack of marketable skills. Or is he just saying, in a back-handed sort of way, that maybe female employees in general really aren’t as good as male employees?…and that way to ensure equal pay is to have the government train them to be as good as men at their work so that their employers want to remunerate them equally?

Someone please tell me how whatever McCain is proposing or hypothesizing is, or ever could be, a ‘better way’ to ensure fairness to women than passing legislation to ensure them the right to go after employers who discriminate. Tell me how this hypothetical hazy program to teach women marketable skills would remedy the unfairness of gender discrimination. Finally, please tell me how many taxpayer dollars the government would have to spend to implement and maintain such a program would be fewer than the number of such dollars required to allow individual women who can establish the existence of discrimination to seek redress through the courts?

Most members of both houses of Congress agree: there is no better way.

Hillary was quick to say, as well she might, that “Senator McCain has yet again fallen in line with President Bush while middle-class families are falling by the wayside…Women are earning less, but Senator McCain is offering more of the same.” (AP)

Speaking for the DNC, Karen Finney said: “”At a time when American families are struggling to keep their homes and jobs while paying more for everything from gasoline to groceries, how on Earth would anyone who thinks they can lead our country also think it’s acceptable to oppose equal pay for America’s mothers, wives and daughters?” (AP)

At Comments from Left Field, Kyle E. Moore points out the obvious:  Senator McCain, Maybe There Should be Lawsuits.

This is my contention with the Right’s war on law suits; occasionally, they’re necessary.

That’s exactly why I opposed tort reform, and why I cringe every time one of these guys gets up on a stage and starts blustering against, “Frivolous lawsuits.”  The fact of the matter is, lawsuits are a vital tool for the average American to find himself or herself on an even playing field against corporate interests….

And why shouldn’t women be allowed to sue their employers for pay discrimination?  How are companies that use sexist standards to govern who gets paid ever going to learn?  What, are we supposed to ask them nicely to please pay women what they deserve?

I guess so.  It looks like our only option at this point.

I can only hope my fellow Hillary supporters—and Obama’s supporters as well— are paying attention.   Whatever you think of the other Dem, could either one really be as bad as four more years of Bush, courtesy of John McCain?


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  • RememberNovember

    Which just proves that McCain has coopted Bush’s “blame the lawyers” tactic for obstructing legislation. Corporatist politics in action.

  • runasim

    So what are McCain’s friends on his side of the aisle saying?

    Does ‘education’ mean women should get doctorate degrees in order to earn the same pay as male HS drop-outs?

  • Misleading Title.

    Nowhere in any of the articles linked to, does John McCain state that he opposes equal pay for women. He simply doesn’t support federal legislation mandating equal pay, which the mechanism in this case being using the courts to address pay discrimination.

    Just because someone doesn’t support legislation in support of something, doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t suppport what is purported to be supported by that particular piece of legislation. There are countless things that I support on general princicple, but would never dream of asking the federal government to pass a law in favor of.

  • runasim


    Your argument seems to be one of just passing the buck to posterity.or some unnamed forces.
    How can you support a principle while, simultanceously blocking efforts to do so in concrete ways? What is the good of supporting anything when one does so by merely sitting in a chair and wishing it well?

    If you or McCain have ideas about a better way to support the principle, this would be the time to bring them forth. The ‘education’ bit is just ridiculous, since equal pay for equal work does not even entail education levels of men and women when performing the same job.

    If any other ideas spring up, I’ll listen.
    In the meantime,, I support the principle of justice. Justice does not prevail, or even play a bit part, when all we do is merely wish it would.

  • DLS

    It is you who are morally as well as logically compelled to use quotations, if you are honest and intelligent, when referring to “equal.”

    Illegitimate federal interventionism, Mr. Rivera’s gripe, is merely an additional irritating impropriety.