There are some political issues that by definition are bipartisan, impossible to argue about without automatically losing votes just by being against the obvious.
Like equal pay for equal work – especially for women, many knowing firsthand the meaning of “glass ceiling” and “77 cents for every dollar.”
In their typically talking-past-each-other radio/Internet addresses Saturday, President Obama and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State (the senior Republican woman in the US House of Representatives) both talked about equal pay.
No surprise, they’re both for it.
“It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode, and give every woman the opportunity she deserves,” Obama said, referring to the popular TV series that has women in the workplace fighting discrimination through recent decades.
Although Obama can refer to his daughters in this context now and then, for Rep. McMorris Rodgers the issue is, by definition, more personal.
“As a woman who worked at McDonald’s to get through college…. as the mom of two young daughters … and as the elected representative of thousands of hardworking women, I have always supported equal pay for equal work,” she said. “And if a woman is being paid less than a man because of gender discrimination, that is both wrong and against the law.”
From there, the two quickly split off into partisan directions.
Without using Democrat phrases like “gender gap” or “war on women,” Obama asserted that “On issues that would benefit millions of women, Republicans in Congress have blocked progress at every turn.”
He was speaking of things like raising the minimum wage for all Americans, which he has done by executive order – to $10.10 an hour – for federally-funded workers employed by federal contractors.
“House Republicans won’t vote to raise the minimum wage or extend unemployment insurance for women out of work through no fault of their own,” Obama said in his brief address. “The budget they passed this week would force deep cuts to investments that overwhelmingly benefit women and children – like Medicaid, food stamps, and college grants. And of course, they’re trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the fiftieth or so time, which would take away vital benefits and protections from millions of women.”
Republicans have a different view, according to McMorris Rodgers.
“For women across America, it’s not just about equal pay,” she said in her radio address. “It’s about achieving a better life.”
“Unfortunately, the president’s economy is doing exactly the opposite,” she continued. “The unemployment rate for women rose last month – meanwhile, growth is slow and wages are stagnant.”
Her solution: “improve job training and help connect out-of-work Americans with the skills they need … a real all-of-the-above energy policy that helps lower bills on everything from gas to groceries … health care reforms that lower costs and preserve peace of mind in retirement.”
Women are starting two out of three small businesses, “so let’s rein in red tape and start overhauling the tax code to support our innovators and manufacturers,” she said. “And women juggle life, work, and everything in between – so let’s give workers the option of using their overtime toward paid time off if that’s what they’d rather have.”
She didn’t mention it Saturday, but McMorris Rodgers has voted against raising the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 level.