As Americans marked “Equal Pay Day” on Tuesday — and President Obama took executive action to combat the continuing wage gap between women and men — some women continued to dismiss the issue as a “myth” and reject the need for legislative or executive action. With this political cover, Senate Republicans blocked consideration of a legislative remedy on Wednesday, for the third time.
A ThinkProgress review of the most vociferous critics found that many had one thing in common: they work for organizations that have received significant funding from billionaire anti-government activists Charles and David Koch and their complex funding network. They include:
Sabrina Schaeffer and Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women’s Forum. The executive director and managing director for the “free market and personal liberty” group hosted a conference call on Tuesday to say that their group “pushes back on those who seek to convince women that society, and especially the workplace, is inherently unfair to women.” Schaeffer criticized Equal Pay day as a “fictitious ‘holiday’ liberal women’s groups have manufactured to try to expose the so-called ‘wage gap.’” Lukas blasted the proposed legislative remedy — the Paycheck Fairness Act — warning, “Americans should ask themselves if they really think what women and the economy need is more class action suits and fewer jobs, because that’s what the Paycheck Fairness Act will deliver. “
Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute. Furchtgott-Roth, the free-market think-tank’s senior fellow, went on CNBC Tuesday to argue that the wage gap between what men and women make is not a “light” to “light” comparison, because men work more in high-wage jobs. She warned that the executive action could backfire and encourage companies move their operations offshore.
Elise Hilton of the Acton Institute. Hilton, a communications specialist for the religion and liberty-focused think-tank, called Equal Pay Day a celebration of “an economic myth.” In a blog post Tuesday, she wrote, “Let’s stop the myth of ‘equal pay.’ It’s paternalistic and pandering. Women don’t need a Presidential Proclamation to save us; we don’t need men creating bills and laws to help us ‘catch up.’ We women know what we’re doing, and we’re doing just fine.”
Romina Boccia of the Heritage Foundation. Boccia, the conservative think-tank’s Grover M. Hermann Fellow, penned a post Wednesday noting that the Senate would consider the Paycheck Fairness Act and that the bill “could hurt women’s employment prospects,” is based on “bad statistics,” and was merely “a smokescreen for Washington setting economy-wide pay rates.” She warned that the proposal would “facilitate class-action lawsuits with unintended consequence: reducing women’s opportunities in the workplace and paving the way for more rigid pay structures.”
Concerned Women for America: The “Biblical principles” organization has long opposed the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act as “a poor attempt at helping women” which would “backfire on those it’s intended to help: working women.” In a fact-sheet released last week, the group warned that the bill “discourages flexible working arrangements by creating a one-size-fits-all policy.”
The Koch’s Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce reported giving $8,150,000 to the Concerned Women for America’s Legislative Action Committee in 2011.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week, Charles Koch explained his philosophy of opposing “collectivism” and embracing free market ideals. He criticized “big government” approaches to problems, arguing that their failures demonstrate, “what happens when elected officials believe that people’s lives are better run by politicians and regulators than by the people themselves.”
A spokesman for the Kochs did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry about whether this belief extends to the question of wage gaps.