At Paycheck Fairness Act Hearing, Republican Asks: What About Men?

The Senate is currently debating the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would make it more difficult for employers to pay female workers less than men. But during Tuesday’s hearing on the bill, a Republican Senator made clear that he opposes it, in part, because he’s afraid it might hurt men. Finally, someone who’s willing to stick up for America’s men against the tyranny of equal pay!

"Take me through exactly what would have to happen, with a specific example of a man and woman, where a man is being paid less than the woman," Lamar Alexander said. "Because this law is not just about women -- it's about men and women."

Alexander, in keeping with contemporary GOP protocol, is shining the spotlight on a problem that doesn’t exist. Men don’t get paid less than women. Depending on how you calculate it, women earn roughly between 77 and 93 cents for every dollar a man makes. There’s room for debate over which metric is the best to use; some analyses look at weekly wages, others at salaries, while still others attempt to control for factors like industry, location and education level. What’s not debatable, though, is that women do earn less money than men in the U.S., not the other way around.

Attorney Camille Olsen, testifying on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, patiently explained to Alexander that, in his fictional scenario, the employer would have to demonstrate that the man was getting paid less because of factors unrelated to his gender, such as job performance or qualifications.

“We have great differences of opinion here,” replied Alexander, who's already stated that he opposes the bill. He went on to allege that Democrats were only pushing to bill to “recapture some political crown because of the disaster Obamacare's been.” Around the time he spoke these words, the White House was announcing that over 7 million people had signed up for Obamacare, putting the law well past its target enrollment.

The Senate is expected to vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act next week.