Maloney camp rips Hayworth’s “paycheck fairness” dodge

One piece of this week’s debate between Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Republican challenger Nan Hayworth that didn’t make it into the Times Herald-Record coverage but provided campaign fodder for Maloney’s side was a discussion about the Paycheck Fairness Act, a Democratic initiative blocked in Congress by Republican opposition for several years.

The bill is intended to close the earnings gap between women and men by strengthening protections against gender-based wage discrimination that supporters blame for men being paid more than female peers. The bill would update the Equal Pay Act — a 1963 law making it illegal to pay women less than men for the same work — by tightening the discrimination standard and making employers subject to lawsuits if they break the law, among other steps. Opponents have challenged the wage-disparity data supporters have cited and questioned the effectiveness of the proposed remedies.

When asked by the Times Herald-Record for her position on the bill, Hayworth said she supported “equal pay for equal work,” but when pressed by Executive Editor Barry Lewis she repeatedly resisted answering if she was for or against the Paycheck Fairness Act specifically. Instead, she tried connecting the issue of women’s wages to her critique of Democratic economic policies, which she believes have stifled growth.

“It completely misses the point if you don’t have jobs to go to in the first place,” she said.

Maloney’s campaign tweaked the former congresswoman the next day for refusing “six times” to provide a direct answer, linking to a video segment with Hayworth’s somewhat rambling response in its press release. “This is hard to believe it’s so crazy — first Tea Party Congresswoman Hayworth defunded Planned Parenthood and now won’t support the simple concept of equal pay for equal work,” campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Formas said.

The House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act when Democrats controlled the House in 2009, but Senate Republicans blocked it the next year, and it has never advanced since being re-introduced. Republicans most recently prevented a vote on the bill in the Democratic-controlled Senate in September, as Democrats pressed the issue as part of their campaign message this season. The House bill, going nowhere in that Republican-led chamber, currently has 208 co-sponsors, all of them Democrats except one. The lone Republican is Chris Gibson of New York’s 19th District, who signed on as a co-sponsor on Sept. 16, the day after the Senate bill fizzled.

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