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The women's hour

Cathy, we hardly knew ye
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

We have often wondered this before…but it keeps coming up. Republicans keep bringing it up. Indeed, Republicans keep expecting to be believed. And are incredibly offended when, not only are they not believed, but they are laughed at.

This week President Obama issued executive orders mandating that Federal contractors guarantee equal pay for their women employees. He also mandated wage transparency on these contractors so it is possible for women to learn when they are not being paid equally and seek redress. And the President urged Congress to pass the Pay Check Fairness Act, extending these same protections to women employees of private employers.

The R’s, of course, reacted predictably. They denounced the President’s actions as “dictatorial”. And they denied there was a problem to be addressed by any of these actions. Women aren’t paid unfairly, they say and, anyway, women don’t really care about the issue. The so-called “war on women”, they say, is an issue made up by Democrats to tar Republicans in the upcoming elections. And, as if to prove their point, they run out their women members to prove their case. And, finally, they blocked the Pay Check Fairness Act from even coming to a vote in the Senate.

One should not be surprised by any of this. Republicans have not exactly been leaders on women’s issues. Indeed, they have generally been in the van fighting against such things as abortion rights…the states with the most severe restrictions on reproductive rights are, naturally, led by Republicans…women’s health care, even voting rights for women. Nor is this the first…or even the tenth…time they’ve voted against equal pay for women. They have always opposed it. The first act President Obama signed into law…the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act…received not a single Republican vote. Even the Republican National Committee, in their “autopsy” of the 2012 election, called themselves the “party of angry white men.”

It isn’t even Republican denial that these issues even exist that is surprising. It’s that they expect to be believed and, thus, they will not face these issues in the coming midterm elections. Are Democrats using these issues as wedges against their Republican opponents? Of course, they are. Why wouldn’t they? But, rather than defending their own positions on these issues, Republicans deny the issues exist. Not only that, they deny that their own actions on these issues are, in any way, anti-woman. And they expect women…rational, informed women…to believe them and, at worst, stay home on Election Day.

We will remind women…as we have other progressive constituencies before…of the words of President Truman. Should these Republicans win the elections this fall, should they keep the House and take the Senate, should they defend their governorships and win others, you may expect a steady steam of body blows. And if you stay home, as you did in 2010, you will deserve every blow you get.

More to the point…if you think the Republicans are done trampling on your rights, you ain’t seen nothing yet!


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