« »

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How Congress attempted to attain income equality

The Paycheck Fairness Act was a piece of legislation aimed at tackling income equality between men and women. Even though income equality narrowed by 30.5 percent in nearly half a century per the Washington Post, it is still an issue that continues to favor male income earners over women. The law, also referred to as S. 3220, and sponsored by a Maryland Senate Democrat named Barbara A. Mikulski along with 36 cosponsors, was introduced to Congress on April 12, 2011. On June 5, 2012, the bill failed to pass in the Senate with 52 of 60 needed votes. After being reintroduced in April, 2014 the Paycheck Fairness Act failed to pass again, but with a total of 54 votes.

Paycheck Fairness Act
Women earn less than men in the same jobs
According to the Senator who wrote the Paycheck Fairness Act, women earn .77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Similar bills in the past have also attempted to address this issue. Specifically, H.R. 1519 sponsored by Representative Rosa L. Delaugro with 190 co-sponsors and S.182 sponsored by then Senator Hillary Clinton and 42 co-sponsors. National Public Radio reports Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller as going on record saying the bill is lip service. This is because when Democrats held a majority in Congress, similar legislation still failed to become law per the Senator.

Opposition arguments to the Paycheck Fairness Act claim it makes possible frivolous lawsuits more possible per Tamara Keith of NPR. Yet, on the other hand, the law would also protect women from employer retaliation such as termination of employment in the event a company were sued for income inequality. The bill also serves a political goal, particularly pre-election political maneuvering that forces votes defining GOP and Democrat positions on political issues. In this sense, the voting on such laws also defines party lines and current issues that are “on the table” or “in play”.

Rules advocating equal pay for women have also been played out in State government. Moreover, according to the Denver Post, the Colorado State Senate has noted unequal pay for female staffers in the White House and passed a unanimous joint resolution in April, 2012 that promotes equal pay within government, for-profit businesses and not-for profit businesses. This was the 17th time such a resolution was initiated in the Colorado legislature per the Denver Post.

Although, the Paycheck Fairness Act is focused on income inequality between sexes, it does propose issuing payment collection regulations based that also include race and national origin per GovTrack. Furthermore, even though the most recent Paycheck Fairness Act failed to become law, the persistence and consistent drum-beat of income equality is likely to remain if the past is any indicator. Such being the case, it will not be a surprise to see yet another Paycheck Fairness Act, or proposed legislation similar to it in the future.

Source: U.S. Senate; US-PDGov