Democrats Show Unity on Pay Equity Bill

Jennifer Steinhauer in New York Times writes about how the Democrats grab a chance to speak with one voice when it comes Pay Equity Bill.

If there was any doubt that the White House strongly supports legislation to make it easier for women to sue over unequal pay, clarity was provided on Monday by President Obama himself. He jumped on a routine conference call with reporters to push the measure, known as the Paycheck Fairness Act, saying, “I don’t have to tell you how much this matters to families across the country.” One of his key deputies, Valerie Jarrett, also made the conference call rounds and appeared to open a Twitter account Monday for the purpose of promoting the bill. It was an unusual example of all-hands-on-deck coordination between the White House and Congressional Democrats in advance of a key procedural vote on the paycheck legislation set for Tuesday. It also represented a serious effort to develop a consistent message at a time of increasing economic turmoil and mounting political anxiety. By contrast, Congressional Republicans — even those who are something short of elated about Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy — have managed to coordinate with his campaign on the major issues of the day, centered on Speaker John A. Boehner’s catchphrase, “Where are the jobs?” For instance, while Republicans in Congress virtually unanimously support a vote to continue the Bush-era tax cuts for all earners, the White House has called for higher taxes on households with more than $250,000 in income. But Congressional Democrats cannot seem to decide whether they favor Mr. Obama’s threshold or a $1 million cap first proposed by Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York in 2010. Republicans are almost wholly unified on the push for an extension of the Keystone XL pipeline — something Mr. Romney has also supported — but Democrats are divided over the issue. While Republicans are gaining unity in their fight against looming cuts to the Pentagon, it is not clear that Democrats are working together to maintain the cuts, which Mr. Obama has said must stay in place in the absence of an acceptable compromise on taxes and spending. A bill to ease regulations on start-up companies, one strongly supported by Mr. Obama, divided Democrats. Further, while Congressional Democrats have created a legislative agenda that revolves around women — taking on domestic violence, contraception issues and paycheck fairness — they have also begun to complain about Mr. Obama’s focus on that very agenda, saying it should be more concentrated on jobs and the economy. “Obviously there are choices to make,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, when asked about the paycheck fairness bill, which he supports. “I don’t feel that you pursue this setting aside other concerns. I continue to make the case to the administration that they ought to be pulling out all the stops for tax reform,” adding that it appeals to both parties.

Complete article can be accessed here.