“My View” from the June 7, 2012 edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
Women get paid only 77 cents for every dollar a man does in the same job — on average — according to the White House.
That was true before last Tuesday, and it’s still true now — after Senate Republicans knocked down a bill that could have changed that.
The Paycheck Fairness Act was designed to make employers more accountable. It got 52 votes in the Senate, but unfortunately, 60 is the new 51. The bill needed 60 to get past a filibuster. So once again, Republicans won with an obstruction instead of a majority — or even an argument.
And that’s what makes this even more frustrating. The reasons opponents give for quashing this bill range from glib to nonexistent. Not a single Republican spoke about it on the Senate floor before Tuesday’s vote, and only one GOP Senator even tried debating it Tuesday. Instead of giving clear reasons on the record, Republicans just said ‘no,’ and that was it.
When they’re asked about it now — and when they don’t change the subject — conservative leaders say the bill would have caused more litigation. The law would let workers sue for punitive damages if they found huge pay scale differences between men and women.
Would that cause lawsuits? Yes — and it should. We always get more suits whenever we hold people accountable for bad behavior.
Even though it’s been turned into a dirty word, litigation protects us from injustice, enforcing everything from trademark infringement to personal injury. The civil rights laws of the 1960s created lawsuits. They also created equitability, fairness and a nation we can believe in.
So the mere threat of a suit is no rationale to kill this bill. Nonetheless, that’s the main explanation Republicans are offering us. They should either go back and pass this law, or give us the real reasons why they won’t.
That’s “My View.”