A spokesperson for the Republican National Committee (RNC) was unable to explain how the GOP would address the pay disparity gap between men and women during an appearance on MSNBC Tuesday and instead repeatedly insisted that Democrats were misleading the public about the issue.
Kirsten Kukowski, the RNC’s National Press Secretary, dodged questions about the Republican Party’s solutions three different times. Instead, she reiterated that Republicans believe “people should be paid equal pay for equal work” but claimed that the Paycheck Fairness Act would tie down employers in regulations. Pressed for a solution, however, Kurkowski would only say that lawmakers should look to “best corporate practices” and allow for additional flex time. Watch it:
The Paycheck Fairness Act increases pay transparency by prohibiting employers from punishing workers who share their salary information and allowing employees to discuss their salaries without fear of losing their jobs. Under the Act, businesses must identify a legitimate business-related reason for maintaining a pay inequity and prove that there are no comparable alternatives that would not result in a pay disparity. The measure only applies to employees who are performing the same job with the same skill, responsibilities, and working conditions.
The GOP has responded to the Democrats’ push for pay equity by releasing a memo, of which Kukowski is listed as the primary author. The document seeks to dismiss concerns about equal pay by questioning the validity of the often-used statistic showing that women, on average, earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. “That number comes from the average earnings of women in all positions and contrasts it with the average earning of men in all positions,” the memo notes. “But women and men hold different jobs in different industries and varying levels of experience.”
But research has shown that the problem of pay equity goes beyond a single statistic. Women earn less than men in their very first year out of college — and in almost every job category tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Women even earn less than men in the 20 most common occupations for full-time working women — including education, nursing, and social work — and in the highest paid fields.
Kukowski, along with other critics, also noted that using an average number would mean that the median pay for women in the White House “is 88 cents for every dollar a man makes.” The administration denies that it discriminates against women, noting that discrimination is not fully responsible for the wage gap. Instead, women are often steered away from high-level positions or have trouble starting a family given the lack of paid family leave and child care assistance programs. A recent study by economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn, however, found that while experience, occupation, and industry explain much of the gap, more than 40 percent could be the result of discrimination.
Ultimately, however, Republicans don’t seem too concerned about the pay equity problem. The GOP memo notes that the issue is simply a distraction from the health care law. “ObamaCare is deeply unpopular, and they don’t want to talk about how policy cancellations are hurting women, or about how women are losing access to the doctors of their choice, or about how it’s meant smaller paychecks for working women (and men),” it says.