Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign struggled to answer a question this morning about whether he supported the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the landmark 2009 law signed by President Obama that gives women greater power to seek restitution for pay discrimination. “We’ll get back to you on that,” Romney’s campaign said on a conference call.
Campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul later clarified that statement, posting on Twitter, “Of course [Mitt Romney] supports pay equity,” and telling Talking Points Memo that Romney “supports pay equity and is not looking to change current law.”
Since Lilly Ledbetter passed, however, little has changed in the way of pay equity for women. Women earn just 77.4 cents for every dollar earned by men, and the gap is even larger for female minorities. Congressional Democrats attempted to rectify that by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update the 1963 Equal Pay Act by closing many of its loopholes and strengthening incentives to prevent pay discrimination. The law was blocked by Senate Republicans. It was reintroduced again last April and went nowhere.
The Romney campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding his stance on the issue.
In recent days, Romney has attempted to turn the Democratic message that the GOP is waging a “war on women” back on Obama, blaming the president for the fact that 92 percent of the jobs lost under Obama were held by women. Those claims, as ThinkProgress has noted, are misleading, and Romney’s campaign has thus far been unable to point to specific Obama policies that have directly hurt women.
Women in Massachusetts, the state Romney governed from 2003 to 2007, earn 81.4 cents for every dollar earned by men, above the national average. Romney, however, made his career in the financial sector, which holds the dubious distinction of having the largest gender pay gap of any American industry.