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What Is the Paycheck Fairness Act?

Obama Hopes to Win Women Over With the Paycheck Fairness Act


Update: The Paycheck Fairness Act just failed to pass the Senate.

President Obama can't buy women's votes, but he's hoping more money in their paychecks will help win him some more support. Today the Paycheck Fairness Act goes before the Senate. If passed, the law would make it easier for women to sue for discrimination and give them a legal right to talk about their salaries with each other without employer retaliation. Obama said the new act, which has its own hashtag (#EqualPay), would give women "access to more tools to claim equal pay for equal work."

I wouldn't bet your hard earned money that the bill will make it out of Congress, however. It's not likely to have enough support in the Senate, and even if it did, the Republican-controlled House would definitely kill it. So why is the president pushing for a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act? Because it will force his political opponents to go on the record as voting against women, who reportedly make 77 cents on each dollar earned by men.

The Democrats hope that it will help them distinguish themselves as the party of women and paint the Republicans as fighting a "War on Women" with opposition to birth control and equal pay. Since Mitt Romney has already said if elected he would keep the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, signed by President Obama in 2009, Obama hopes the Paycheck Fairness Act, which goes further, will provide a needed distinction on this issue.

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