Equal Pay Takes Center Stage as a Democratic Campaign Issue

Here’s what female Democratic candidates are saying about equal pay. Spoiler: It’s a united front.

National Journal
Lucia Graves
Add to Briefcase
Lucia Graves
April 8, 2014, 1:32 p.m.

Noth­ing riles the Re­pub­lic like dis­putes over equal pay. And Demo­crat­ic politi­cians, think­ing they have the edge in the ar­gu­ment, have been diving in­to those con­ver­sa­tions — first in Texas, then in Wash­ing­ton, and now all across the coun­try as midterm elec­tions heat up.

Last week Demo­crat­ic gubernat­ori­al can­did­ate Wendy Dav­is ex­cor­i­ated her Re­pub­lic­an com­pet­it­or At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Greg Ab­bott for op­pos­ing le­gis­la­tion that would help work­ers file wage-dis­crim­in­a­tion claims. This week the Obama White House an­nounced ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions to help fed­er­al fe­male con­tract­ors while top Demo­crats touted the Paycheck Fair­ness Act. And Tues­day, more than a dozen Demo­crat­ic wo­men ad­ded their names to the list of can­did­ates stress­ing their al­le­gi­ance to fight­ing for paycheck-fair­ness le­gis­la­tion. (The rub: Wo­men make 77 to 82 per­cent of what men make, de­pend­ing on the met­ric you use.)

“This is ex­actly the kind of thing that really hurts our kids and our fu­ture,” said Aman­da Rentería, a con­gres­sion­al can­did­ate in Cali­for­nia’s 21st Dis­trict, on a Tues­day con­fer­ence call with re­port­ers. “And it couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent between Con­gress­man [Dav­id] Valadao and I when it comes to fight­ing for wo­men and for mak­ing sure our fam­il­ies can really provide for their fam­il­ies and for our fu­ture.”

Leti­cia Van de Putte, a can­did­ate for lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor of Texas, echoed that sen­ti­ment. “Why would any­one want their sons to get paid more for the same job, for the same work?” she asked. “We love our chil­dren equally.”

A quick sur­vey of can­did­ates sup­por­ted by EMILY’s List, the group that helps fund and groom fe­male can­did­ates who back abor­tion rights, shows such rhet­or­ic is nearly uni­ver­sal. “Equal Pay Day has drawn a clear out­line of the dif­fer­ence between the two parties,” EMILY’s List spokes­wo­man Marcy Stech told Na­tion­al Journ­al in a state­ment. “In state after state EMILY’s List can­did­ates are out on the trail talk­ing to voters who know that it’s well past time to end gender dis­crim­in­a­tion in pay while Re­pub­lic­ans are fum­bling the ball on a com­mon­sense solu­tion.”

One such can­did­ate is Ann Cal­lis, a Demo­crat run­ning for of­fice in Illinois’ 13th dis­trict. In a Tues­day in­ter­view with WCIA 3’s Cyn­thia Bruno, she urged law­makers to vote yes on the Paycheck Fair­ness Act and raise the min­im­um wage. An­oth­er is Hawaii’s Colleen Hanabusa, who’s run­ning for U.S. Sen­ate. In a Tues­day op-ed, Hanabusa ar­gued pay equity and a high­er min­im­um wage will help wo­men, fam­il­ies, com­munit­ies, and the na­tion.

Emily Cain, a Demo­crat run­ning in Maine’s 2nd Dis­trict, sim­il­arly soun­ded her sup­port. “Re­pub­lic­ans in Con­gress have blocked equal-pay le­gis­la­tion and mocked the ba­sic fair­ness and equal­ity that work­ing wo­men and their fam­il­ies de­serve,” Cain said in a state­ment pos­ted Tues­day. “We need to end this gender dis­crim­in­a­tion in pay and start re­ward­ing equal work with equal pay im­me­di­ately.”

In the North Car­o­lina Sen­ate race, Demo­crat­ic in­cum­bent Kay Hagan made her feel­ings known and con­tras­ted them with her likely op­pon­ent Thom Tillis’s po­s­i­tion. “Giv­en Tillis’s ac­tions on the state equal-pay meas­ure, North Car­olini­ans can only as­sume that he op­poses the Paycheck Fair­ness Act and the Lilly Led­bet­ter Fair Pay Act, which is already law,” she wrote Tues­day. “As more and more fam­il­ies rely on wo­men’s in­come as the primary or co-bread­win­ner, this isn’t just an is­sue that af­fects wo­men — it has an im­pact on middle-class fam­il­ies and chil­dren in every corner of our state where wo­men earn just 82 cents to the dol­lar that men earn.”

In Cali­for­nia’s 31st Dis­trict, Eloise Gomez Reyes called it “a fight to im­prove eco­nom­ic se­cur­ity for mil­lions of chil­dren in Amer­ica liv­ing in house­holds that de­pend on the moth­ers’ earn­ings to make ends meet.” In Flor­ida’s 2nd, Gwen Gra­ham called Re­pub­lic­an re­cal­cit­rance on the is­sue “ex­actly the kind of thing North Flor­idi­ans can’t stand about Wash­ing­ton’s out-of-touch pri­or­it­ies.” And in Iowa’s 3rd, Staci Ap­pel vowed to “fight to end gender dis­crim­in­a­tion in pay in Con­gress and build an eco­nomy that works for all of Iowa’s fam­il­ies.”

Ken­tucky Sen­ate can­did­ate Al­is­on Lun­der­gan Grimes went on of­fense, not­ing her op­pon­ent, Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell, had twice voted to pre­vent wo­men from seek­ing re­course for the pay dis­crim­in­a­tion.

These wo­men are just a hand­ful of the Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates hop­ing to mo­bil­ize fe­male voters, an im­port­ant vot­ing block in 2014 and bey­ond. While many have noted the ves­ted in­terest Demo­crats have in woo­ing fe­male voters (in 2012, Pres­id­ent Obama won wo­men voters by 11 points), oth­ers have gone even fur­ther, sug­gest­ing the ef­fort is noth­ing more than a “des­per­ate” elec­tion ploy.

Lily Adams, deputy com­mu­nic­a­tions dir­ect­or for the Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee, dis­missed the no­tion. “It’s not about scor­ing polit­ic­al points,” she told re­port­ers on Tues­day’s call. “It’s about ba­sic fair­ness.”

Up­date: An earli­er ver­sion of this story con­tained a com­ment from Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell that Talk­ing Points Memo had con­strued as cri­ti­cism of the Demo­crats’ fo­cus on pay equity is­sues. As TPM is now re­port­ing, Mc­Con­nell’s of­fice has since said that TPM mis­con­strued his com­ments and that he was ac­tu­ally talk­ing about the Demo­crats’ fo­cus on the Koch broth­ers. As a res­ult, Mc­Con­nell’s com­ment has been re­moved from this story.

What We're Following See More »
TRUMP CONTINUES TO LAWYER UP
Kasowitz Out, John Dowd In
2 days ago
THE LATEST

As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."

Source:
ALSO INQUIRES ABOUT PARDON POWER
Trump Looking to Discredit Mueller
2 days ago
THE LATEST

President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.

Source:
INCLUDES NY PROBE INTO MANAFORT
Why Yes, Mueller Is Looking into Trump Businesses
2 days ago
THE LATEST

In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."

Source:
Mueller Expands Probe to Trump Business Transactions
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."

Source:
ANALYSIS FROM CBO
32 Million More Uninsured by 2026 if Obamacare Repealed
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login