Back in 2010 it was a Senate filibuster that prevented passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Act would have helped end discriminatory pay practices against women. Needing 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster, Democrats could only garner 58.
So, while the House passed the bill and a majority of senators favored passing the bill, because Senate rules require a supermajority to invoke cloture, the bill died.
GOP reasoning for voting against the bill was that the regulations would prove too onerous for small business. And, as you know by now, protecting small businesses is the universal excuse to rejecting any legislation that might end discrimination. Republicans did not actually say the bill was bad on its actual merits, only that it would be a burden to small businesses. Heaven forbid we ask small businesses not to discriminate.
Isn’t being the victim of discrimination a burden, too?
Early on in his administration, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Due to large Democratic majorities in both houses, it passed even though every male Republican in the Senate voted against the Act, which sole purpose was to simply extend the statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit.
Republican objectors claimed this would (yep, you guessed it) burden businesses. In the case of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the legislation simply gives alleged victims of gender discrimination their day in court. Republicans wanted to deny them even that opportunity.
One purpose of government is to prevent exploitation of its people. Regulation does that. When the GOP carps on about “overly” burdensome regulations that have the audacity to call for equal pay for equal work, it is not hard to see the GOP as so nakedly driven by greed that it will tolerate discrimination rather than give people their day in court.
In terms of regulation, in trying to overturn Obamacare, Republicans want to regress on many important reforms important to women’s health as anti-market. Yet, in the battle over contraception and planning one’s pare nthood, Republicans lead the way in taking fundamental choices away from women.
Certainly, Hilary Rosen will pick her words more carefully next time when addressing Ann Romney and stay-at-home moms. But, this pseudo-debate does not mask the real work Republicans have done in Congress to make life harder for women. Rosen’s choice words might be impolitic, but the polls show women prefer the fairness and choices Democrats offer than the paternalistic, anti-regulation vision offered by the GOP.