GOP Primary, Mitt Romney, President Obama — April 12, 2012 at 6:55 am

Mitt Romney checked: turns out he supports equal pay for women (sorta)


Sam, we’ll get back to you on that

Yesterday, when asked if Mitt Romney supports equal pay for men and women doing the same job, his campaign team didn’t have an answer. They had to check to see if he actually support women’s rights or not. The shocking thing about this is not that they weren’t sure. It’s probably hard to know when you’re a Republican these days and you’ve spent such enormous energy going after the rights of women in so many different areas. No, what’s actually shocking is that the event was a conference call during a week when Mitt Romney is trotting out his female supporters and his utter lies all over the country to prove he’s pro-women.

Don’t you think his campaign would have had the answer to that particular question already sorted out? It is, after all, the first bill President Obama signed into law and a signature accomplishment of his first term.

But, no, when asked the question by Sam Stein of the Huffington Post, Romney’s spokesperson paused an agonizing six seconds then responded, “Sam, we’ll get back to you on that”.

Here’s the exchange followed by Lilly Ledbetter herself talking about the law named after her.

This is not Republican and it’s not Democrat. It’s civil rights. It’s a human right. It’s a right that each of us should have. Not based on our party affiliation but based on who we are and what we do and is it right?

Ms. Ledbetter responded to the Romney campaign’s response, as well:

“I was shocked and disappointed to hear that Mitt Romney is not willing to stand up for women and their families. If he is truly concerned about women in this economy, he wouldn’t have to take time to ‘think’ about whether he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This Act not only ensures women have the tools to get equal pay for equal work, but it means their families will be better served also. Women earn just 77 cents to every dollar that men earn for the same job, which is why President Obama took decisive action and made this the first bill that he signed when he took office. Women should have the ability to take their bosses to court to get the same pay as their male coworkers. Anyone who wants to be President of the United States shouldn’t have to think about whether they support pursuing every possible avenue to ensuring women get the same pay for the same work as men. Our economic security depends on it.”

Here’s how absolutely tone-deaf Mitt Romney is on women’s rights: last November, he gave a list of Supreme Court justices that he would use as models when appointing justices of his own. He named Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. Every single one of these men voted against Lilly Ledbetter in the case that forced Congress to create the new law.

Two hours after Sam Stein asked the question, by the way, the Romney campaign assured the women of America that he “would not repeal” the Lilly Ledbetter Act (not that he supports it, of course, because it’s a law signed by “that one”.) So you can all just settle down and not worry your pretty little heads about it, m’kay?

This week Romney has been trying to say that it’s actually President Obama that’s waging a war on women, saying, “Over 92 percent of the jobs lost under this President were lost by women. His policies have been really a war on women.”

Sounds good but it’s bullshit. Politifact rates it “Mostly False”. The Obama campaign responded quickly:

Independent fact-checkers and economic experts have labeled Romney’s claim highly misleading. To insist that the President’s policies have caused women to lose jobs “ignores critical facts.” As Princeton University economist Betsey Stevenson said, “I don’t think you could point to a single piece of evidence that the pattern of job loss: men first then women, is due to the president’s policies. It’s a historical pattern that has held in previous recessions.” MSNBC reports that Romney’s numbers “don’t tell the whole story.” [More HERE].

Over at Talking Points Memo, they were even more harsh and came up with this graphic that proves the lie:

I’m not sure what to expect next from Mitt Romney when it comes to his attempt to regain the support of women. Maybe he’ll trot out Phyllis Schlafly and put her on his payroll? I wonder if she’d make as much as Romney’s male surrogates?

Adding… Two Michigan Democratic women legislators have weighed in on Mitt Romney’s bizarre reaction to Sam Stein’s softball question.

First, we have this from State Representative Rebekah Warren of Ann Arbor:

“If Michigan women had any thought whatsoever that Mitt Romney’s extremism on women’s issues was a temporary condition brought on by his desire to win his party’s primary, today’s embarrassing refusal to answer whether he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act removes all doubt. The fact that Governor Romney – on his first full day as the presumptive Republican nominee – can’t say for sure if he supports equal pay for equal work only reaffirms that he can’t be trusted to do what’s right for Michigan women.”

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer had this to say:

“What does Mitt Romney need to think about when it comes to supporting fair pay and equal treatment for women in the workforce? As a mother of two daughters, I find it outrageous and dispiriting that the presumptive Republican nominee for President can’t – or won’t – take a clear position on the Lilly Ledbetter Act that ensures equal pay for equal work. Today’s display only reinforces what has become increasingly clear as this election has gone on: Michigan women can’t trust Mitt Romney.”

UPDATE: The absurd claim that 92% of the jobs lost were held by women and are due to President Obama’s policies is getting soundly debunked across the internet. MSNBC’s First Read has a good round-up. I think the best overall picture is given by the Washington Post:

First of all, readers know we frown on the somewhat arbitrary dividing line of measuring jobs statistics by presidential terms. It is a common journalistic — and political — metric. But restarting the employment clock from the moment the president takes the oath of office doesn’t tell you much about his performance, especially since it takes time for the new president’s policies to take effect.

We’ve argued, without much success, that it would make more sense to measure Obama’s job performance from the end of the recession — June 2009 — since that would also allow at least five months for his policies, such as the stimulus bill, to kick in.

The RNC calculated [the 92% figure] by comparing the decline in the number of all nonfarm employees from January 2009 to March 2012 with the decline in jobs held by women in that period. The numbers, derived from Bureau of Labor Statistics data, do add up.

But there is less to this stat than meets the eye. First of all, why start in January? Obama, after all took office on January 20. If you start the data in February, then the overall job loss is just 16,000 jobs—while women lost 484,000 jobs. […]

How could women lose more jobs than the overall total? It’s a function of the dates one picks. In fact, the picture becomes clearer if you start running the data from the date the recession began — December 2007. With that starting point, the total decline in jobs was just over 5 million, with women accounting for nearly 1.8 million of those jobs.

Now look what happens when we just look at the past year, March 2011 to March 2012. Men gained nearly 1.9 million jobs while women gained 635,000 jobs.

In other words, men did lose more jobs in the recession. Now that the economy is growing again, men are recovering jobs at a faster pace than women. In fact, the latest employment report shows that male participation in the work force was up 14,000 while female participation fell 177,000, in part because women tend to work in retail or government jobs (such as teaching), which have been cut in recent months.