President Obama took and even tougher stand for equal pay today, while, at the same time, Republicans are doing their best to send women back to the kitchen.
During his weekly address, the president said:
Today, women make up about half of our workforce, and more than half of our college graduates. More women are now their families’ main breadwinner than ever before.
But in a lot of ways, our economy hasn’t caught up to this new reality yet. On average, a woman still earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man does. And too many women face outdated workplace policies that hold them back – which in turn holds back our families and our entire economy.
A woman deserves to earn equal pay for equal work, and paid leave that lets you take a day off to care for a sick child or parent. Congress needs to act on these priorities.
And when women hold most lower-wage jobs in America, Congress needs to raise the minimum wage. Because no woman who works full-time should ever have to raise her children in poverty.
Now, the good news is that in the year since I first called on Congress to raise the minimum wage, six states have passed laws to raise theirs. More states, counties, and cities are working to raise their minimum wages as we speak. Small businesses like St. Louis-based Pi Pizzeria, are raising their wages too – not out of charity, but because it’s good for business. And by the way, Pi makes a really good pizza. And in this year of action, I signed an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their employees a fair wage of at least ten dollars and ten cents an hour.
But if we’re truly going to reward the hard work of every American, Congress needs to join the rest of the country and pass a bill that would lift the federal minimum wage to ten dollars and ten cents an hour. This wouldn’t just raise wages for minimum wage workers – its effects would lift wages for nearly 28 million Americans across this country. It will give businesses more customers with more money to spend, and grow the economy for everybody. So call up your Member of Congress and let them know it’s time for “ten-ten.” It’s time to give America a raise.
A true opportunity agenda is one that works for working women. Because when women succeed, America succeeds. We do better when everyone participates, and when everyone who works hard has the chance to get ahead. That’s what opportunity means – and it’s why I’ll keep fighting to restore it.
While the president is fighting for equal pay, this week alone we have seen a fundraiser for Mitch McConnell say that wives have an obligation to have sex with their husbands, and Texas Republican candidate for governor Greg Abbott vow to veto the state’s equal pay bill, while he is paying women in his office even less than the 77 cents on the dollar national average. Speaker of the House John Boehner refuses to bring the Paycheck Fairness Act to the House floor for a vote, and Republicans at every level of government are making denying women equal pay a staple of their agenda.
President Obama pointed out at an event in Florida that soon women will make up the majority of the nation’s highly educated workforce. Republicans have responded to this march of progress by trying to force women back into the kitchen. By charting this course, Republicans are making the choice easy for women. Only one political party is fighting for women to earn equal pay for equal work. The Republican stance is that the country was better off when women were at home cooking dinner and raising the babies. That’s not going to fly in the 21st Century.
What the GOP refuses to comprehend is that the 1950s were better for the old white men who are the Republican Party’s base, but it was an awful time for everyone else. Republicans are trying to go all Stone Age and drag women by the hair back to the cave, while President Obama and the Democrats understand that women deserve to be equal partners in the opportunity culture of our economy.
Women deserve better, and they will hopefully flex their political muscles by voting against the Leave It To Beaver Republicans this November.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association