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Thursday: Stating the Obvious

I was flipping through channels last night, trying very carefully to avoid broadcast news, when my low battery powered remote got stuck on PBS during the NewsHour.  There was Judy Woodruff interviewing Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin about their (yet another) budget deficit reduction plan.  This one is just another version of “stick it to the middle class” that has become the popular fad in Washington these days.  In this one, we get a sales tax!  Ooo, it’s like opening a new present every morning.

But what was funny about this interview was not their earnest but misguided assertion that if we, the naively childish middle class voters of America, would just understand what the problem is, we would thank them for bringing it to our attention before things got really bad.  It wasn’t the magical rearranging of the debt burden saddling us while the rich get away with murder with (yet another) income tax cut.  It’s not that these bipartisan groups to which no one WE know were invited to participate in keep coming up with new ways to screw us.  No, it was Domenici forgetting where he was.  Literally:

ALICE RIVLIN: We got a surplus. We both worked on that.

And we got the budget from a considerable deficit into surplus. And the way it was done was some tax increase and holding down spending. The caps on spending are the same idea that we had back in the ’90s. And it worked. It worked. Yes, it worked.

PETE DOMENICI: I want to say this one thing about this. And, as far as I’m concerned — tell me what I’m talking about, because I have forgotten.

JUDY WOODRUFF: About whether you believe that this will actually be solved, that the members of Congress will vote…

PETE DOMENICI: Oh. Yes. We were able to — we were able — we were able to do bipartisan work and get some big problems solved. [RD hides head in hands from embarrassment] This problem is many, many more times difficult for America. We’re going to be ruined as a nation and become a second-rate country if this debt is allowed to continue like it is.

So, we have a bigger, a more just reason to convince people. We convinced them then to work together. We ought to be able to now. It won’t be easy, but I believe leadership, including leadership from the president, is going to make this a war, a war on this debt. And, if we do that, we might win.

Well, I’m confident now.

(Ok, maybe I was too hasty.  Pete Domenici apparently suffers from a brain disorder that leads to Republicanism dementia.  My remarks might be misconstrued as a bit insensitive.  However, with that in mind, Domenici probably was not the best person to work on this committee or present it on TV.  It tends to make me not take this bipartisan task force very seriously)

By the way, Washington, the next time you want to set up (yet another) bipartisan group thingy to examine the deficit, I suggest you go through the formal route and have Congress do it so the people’s representatives, some of whom may be liberal Democrats (we’re not positive but some claim to lean that way) have some semblence of having the teeniest, tiniest input.  Otherwise, it doesn’t look legitimate to us and we will probably not “understand” and will be harder to “convince”.  JMHO

Paul Krugman weighs in on a national sales tax with some graphs to back it up but I’m with Atrios on this one.  (come to think of it, I’m in agreement with a lot of what Atrios wants like better urban planning and mass transit. If Obama hadn’t destroyed the left blogosphere, we might even be allies.  Go figure.)  The deficit hawks aren’t giving us any choices to reduce the deficit except on the backs of the middle class and I’m agin it until they do.

Accountability before Austerity

But I could think of at least one way to boost the nation’s economy in a big way that got taken down by Ben Nelson of Nebraska yesterday…

Join me below the fold…

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Equal Pay for Equal Work: Not Happening, Ladies. Now, Go Buy Some Beauty Products.

Nine to Five - What a Way to Make a Living

Nine to Five - What a Way to Make a Living

Being home sick is not all bad. Yesterday I was able to watch the end of one of my favorite movies from the 80’s, “Nine to Five“, starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and the deliciously villainous Dabney Coleman as their “sexist egotistical lying hypocritical bigot” of a boss.

The ladies in question all want one thing from Mr. Coleman: Respect. And they ain’t getting it. Lily Tomlin, the always-passed-over power behind the throne, finally loses it when the boss refuses yet again to give her a promised and much-deserved promotion – awarding it, of course, to the young man she trained instead. She, Fonda and Parton have a commiseration party, where they get stoned and fantasize about taking revenge on Coleman. Tomlin’s fantasy is about poisoning Coleman’s coffee. When she gets to work the next day, she finds to her horror that she has actually done so by mistake. Tomlin, Fonda and Parton then go through endless, hilarious machinations to prevent anyone from knowing that Tomlin is an attempted murderess, including kidnapping Coleman and holding him prisoner in his own house for six weeks.

During those six weeks, the ladies completely revolutionize the company that Coleman was running in such a sexist and inhuman manner. Parton can sign Coleman’s name better than he can, and they keep sending out memos from “the boss” instating female-friendly improvements, including a new day care center, a job-sharing program that allows working mothers to work part-time, and equal pay for equal work.

Coleman ends up escaping his confinement, and shows up at the firm determined to change everything back to the way it was before, and to send the women to jail for attempted murder and kidnapping. Just as he is about to call the police, the owner of the company (Mr. Tinsdale) personally shows up to commend him for increasing productivity over 20% in that short six-week period. He is delighted about absolutely everything the women have done – open to every change, except one. Holding a baby in his arms, Tinsdale remarks to Coleman under his breath, “That equal pay thing, son – that’s gotta go.” At the end of the movie, the women never solve this problem, although the script is optimistic that they will.

Alas, twenty-nine years later, nothing has changed. Mr. Tinsdale is still in charge, and he’s not even remotely as open-minded as he was in “Nine to Five.” Employers are not required to do much of anything to take care of their employees these days, and women are still paid an average of 78 cents to every man’s dollar. This disparity partially explains why the United States has fallen to 15 on the Human Development Index. (Notice that Iceland is number one – yes, the country that has just appointed an openly lesbian woman as its interim Prime Minister. Huh.)

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Ledbetter Act without the Paycheck Fairness Act = A nice car without wheels

astinmartindb9wowheels2

Dearest Conflucians,  our great MadamaB left a comment in DakiniKat’s Madelin Laundries post yesterday:

madamab, on January 29th, 2009 at 5:26 pm Said:

Kat – Amazingly, Senate Democrats gave away the Paycheck Fairness Act in order to get the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Can you believe this sh*t? And no one is talking about it.

Link

Everything he does, you have to ask “what’s the catch?”

Some in Obama-lala-land (I will not link, but you know the cult sites) are claiming that we should just STFU and be happy that Obama is throwing us a bone with the Ledbetter Act – actually, they make it out to be Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s all rolled up into one.

But there’s a problem.  Here an excerpt pointing out the differences between the two:

Rather, the Court held that when an employer issues paychecks pursuant to a pay system that is facially nondiscriminatory and neutrally applied, the mere fact that such paychecks may give present effect to past discrimination occurring outside the charging period is insufficient to restart the statute of limitations.  The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act expressly overturns this decision and provides that every paycheck continues a distinct discriminatory practice. Such a rule virtually eliminates the statute of limitations on some pay discrimination claims. Indeed, current employees – and even retirees who still receive pay or benefits – could conceivably file lawsuits based on discriminatory practices that occurred decades earlier, provided such plaintiffs could link their claims to compensation received within the statute of limitations. The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would apply to pay discrimination claims brought under Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, which amends the Equal Pay Act, also targets unequal pay practices through a number of provisions.

  • The bill increases the potential damages for EPA claims by allowing the recovery of unlimited compensatory and punitive damages.
  • It eliminates a key affirmative defense. Employers currently can defend EPA claims by proving they based their compensation decisions on “any factor other than sex.” The Paycheck Fairness Act replaces this defense with the “bona fide factor other than sex” defense, which only applies if the employer demonstrates the decision-making factor: (a) is not based upon or derived from a sex-based differential in compensation; (b) is job-related with respect to the position in question; and (c) is consistent with business necessity. But, this defense would not apply if the employee establishes the employer refused to adopt an alternative employment practice serving the same business purpose that would not create a pay differential.
  • The bill prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation with co-workers.
  • It expressly permits class actions wherein similarly situated employees who do not wish to participate in the action would have to “opt out” of the action. This is an expansion because employees must presently “opt in” to collective actions under the EPA.

I’m no labor attorney, nor a politician, nor a law scholar (paging Heidi Li Feldman!), just a laid-off Juanita Lunchbucket who wants equal pay for equal work so I can earn my arroz and habichuelas just like the guy/gal in my same position and experience.

Help me understand this if I’m wrong:  the Paycheck Fairness Act enforces and strengthens unequal pay claims while the Ledbetter Act just buys the claimant more time.  Is that right? If that’s the case, it’s a another bamboozle by the Bamboozler -in-Chief.

Here’s what the NYT says (again, h/t MadamaB):

After signing the corrective measure, Mr. Obama ought to press Congress to continue the fight for equal pay for equal work by passing a second bill — the Paycheck Fairness Act — that would further strengthen current laws against gender-based wage discrimination. Among other things, this bill, which Mr. Obama co-sponsored while in the Senate, would make stronger remedies available under the existing Equal Pay Act; ensure that courts require employers to show that wage disparities are job-related, not sex-based, and consistent with business needs; and protect employees who discuss salary information from retaliation.

These changes may not please some business interests. But women still make, on average, only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men for performing substantially the same work. To narrow that yawning wage gap, tighter rules are plainly in order.

The House, to its credit, passed both bills. But Democratic leaders in the Senate peeled off the Paycheck Fairness Act after determining that pairing the two measures could jeopardize the chamber’s approval of the more familiar Ledbetter bill.

The new president can play a useful role in helping to rally Senate Democrats not to rest on their Ledbetter laurels and to persuade Republicans to come on board. In the House, only three Republicans voted in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In the Senate, five did. By now, Republican opposition to civil rights and pay equity is not surprising. That makes it all the sadder.

(ACK!!!!!!!  Here they go again with the damn blame shifting?  Obama doesn’t NEED Republican support, he has Congress & House!)

And without the Paycheck Fairness Act, Ledbetter Act is just garnish, IMHO. It’s like being sold a car without wheels.   Ledbetter allows 180 day extension on every paycheck that was allegedly discriminated due to pay, but without the Paycheck Fairness Act, women have no increased protection against wage discrimination – and it will make it harder for women to sue an employer who is discriminating.

UPDATE for the PUMA paparazzi stalkers: If Obama co-endorsed the Paycheck Fairness act as a senator, what’s stopping him from signing it into law – from forcing the Senate to vote on behalf of the Paycheck Fairness Act like Obama did to House Democrats when he ordered them to drop the Family Planning Provision?:

Democratic Leaders Likely To Remove Family Planning Provision From Economic Stimulus Proposal

President Obama has asked House Democrats to cut a provision of their economic stimulus proposal that would give states more flexibility to expand Medicaid coverage of family planning services, the AP/Austin American-Statesman reports. According to the AP/American-Statesman, several Democratic officials said that House leaders likely would abandon the provision at Obama’s request, which was made “at a time when the administration is courting Republican critics of the legislation.” A final decision is expected on Tuesday, when Obama is scheduled to meet separately with House and Senate Republicans.

Why sell us a car without the wheels?  What good is it?

And if we don’t fight for the whole enchilada,  healthcare, equal pay, equal rights, voter rights, civil rights, etc.,  we’ll be fed kibbles and bits worth sold to us  as Equality filet mignon.

Equality is not something you can fragment into pieces.  Either we have equal rights, or we don’t.  And guess what?  WE DON’T.

If women want any rights more than they’s got, why don’t they just take them, and not be talking about it.


Sojourner Truth

GOP gets crack at women’s paychecks thanks to Harry Reid

Oh, yeah, our lives are so cushy that the Republicans are going to have a chance to offer amendments to the bills that would have evened things out and Harry Reid is giving them the means to do it:
“Further, when those bills were considered on the floor and there were no opportunities for Republican senators to offer amendments, millions of our constituents were denied the right to be heard.”

So saith Mitch McConnell whose constituents must consist entirely of male small business owners or whose female constituents are perfectly content to pay the same prices as men for everything from housing to daycare but do it on significantly reduced wages and all from the comfort of their burqas.

Hey, if they want to defend the indefensible in a public forum, by all means, let’er rip! I’m sure we’ll hear all about the poor put-upon company owners with less than 25 employees who can’t afford to give women raises. Or we’ll hear about frivolous lawsuits, like women struggling to make a living wage will have the money for a lawsuit. Oh yeah, legal bills, court costs and time off from work. How frivolous. It makes me want to run out and buy a Kate Spade handbag and a pair if Jimmy Choo shoes just thinking about it.

The problem isn’t that the Republicans are going to look like anachronistic, hardhearted fools while they argue that women shouldn’t be compensated equally as men for the same work. No, the stupid thing is that this is even open to amendments at all since Reud shouldn’t have any trouble getting it to pass amendment free. He doesn’t need any Republican votes so why open *this* bill up for amendments? Is it so he can embarrass the GOP?

Somebody better find out because it makes my blood boil to think the Senate is messing with women when this should be the law if the land without any dispute.