There were a couple of curious elements in one of the responses of Republican Marco Rubio on Sunday's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Defending his party's presidential nominee on his stance on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Florida Senator remarked "I think anyone who is working out there and making a living -- if you're the most qualified person for the job, you should be able to get paid, you should get paid as much as your male counterpart. Everyone agrees with that principle."
It might be nitpicking to point out that Rubio recognized agreement with "with that principle," rather than "with that," and that he couldn't quite say "Mitt Romney (and I)," grudgingly employing the generic "everyone."
Clearly, though, Rubio (who voted against the LLA) and, more importantly, nominee Romney, oppose the legislation. Presumably, Mitt Romney has no objection to an employer choosing to pay women equally to men. But if the employer is able to keep the pay inequity hidden long enough, he (or, less likely, she) is in the clear, with the employee unable to file an action alleging wage discrimination.
Further, there is question whether Romney even agrees with the "principle" that a woman should get paid as much as her male counterpart. Asked at the second presidential debate specifically about "pay equity," Romney remarked (in full)
Thank you. And (sic) important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.
And I -- and I went to my staff, and I said, "How come all the people for these jobs are -- are all men." They said, "Well, these are the people that have the qualifications." And I said, "Well, gosh, can't we -- can't we find some -- some women that are also qualified?"
And -- and so we -- we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.
I went to a number of women's groups and said, "Can you help us find folks," and they brought us whole binders full of women.
I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.
Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.
She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.
We're going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I'm going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women. In the -- in the last women have lost 580,000 jobs. That's the net of what's happened in the last four years. We're still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 31/2 million women, more now in poverty than four years ago.
What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.
This is what I have done. It's what I look forward to doing and I know what it takes to make an economy work, and I know what a working economy looks like. And an economy with 7.8 percent unemployment is not a real strong economy. An economy that has 23 million people looking for work is not a strong economy.
An economy with 50 percent of kids graduating from college that can't finds a job, or a college level job, that's not what we have to have.
Whatever Marco Rubio is trying to sell us, there is nothing in there about equal pay. Quite the contrary- Romney applauds employers who grant women job flexibility, which might result in lower pay. On follow-up, the former governor stated "I'm going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce."
No one knows what "supporting women in the workforce" means, though apparently it does not mean requiring employers to pay women on an equal basis to men. No doubt as President, however, Romney would be in favor of "a stronger economy," particularly compared to the current crop of GOP members of Congress, who have sabotaged President Obama's every effort to strengthen the economy.