Todd Akin Opposes Equal Pay Regulations And Really Doesn’t Get It
In a video unveiled last week that is probably less shocking than it should be, Missouri Representative Todd Akin can be heard supporting unequal pay among men and women. The video, which was released by his political opponent Senator Claire McCaskill’s campaign, is of a town hall meeting in which Akin responds to a question regarding his vote against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act:
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Why do you think it is okay for a woman to be paid less for doing the same work as a man?
AKIN: Well, first of all, the premise of your question is that I’m making that particular distinction. I believe in free enterprise. I don’t think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don’t pay. I think it’s about freedom. If someone wants to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that’s fine, however it wants to work. So, the government sticking its nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble.
Here’s the thing: I really want to not hate Todd Akin. The most recent poll says that he still has a one percentage point lead over McCaskill in the Missouri Senate race. I’m from Missouri and this man may potentially represent me. I know that I come from a fairly conservative state, particularly on ideological issues, but how does this man have the potential to represent my best interests in the Senate when he doesn’t understand something as basic as equal pay?
As Akin said, “If someone wants to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that’s fine, however it wants to work.” I mean, the idea here is reasonable in theory. An employer and an employee agree on a fair salary and that’s that. But the problem is, that’s not all there is to it in world we live in. There are many cases in which the agreed upon salary is not actually fair, where pay preference is given to some but not others on the basis of things like gender and race.
In an address to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri last month, Akin said the following when asked if he was a feminist:
Let me just say, the people who want, who don’t like America the way it is and want to change us radically and want to push for more and more big government, one of the tools that use is an old thing, you’ve heard it before, divide and conquer. Right? Now we have a president who said he was the unifier, but he wasn’t telling the truth. He wants to pit you against some billionaire that should pay all the taxes and he’s always dividing. And the emphasis is on, you know, rich people/poor people, women/men, different colors, all of those things divide us as a people. But the thing that I just try and explain to you is I don’t see America this divided. I see us all as Americans.
The inherent problem with Akin, as I see it, is that he does not see the obvious inequality in the United States. America is divided, and actions like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act are crucial steps in unifying the country. When a woman who has just received her MBA is earning $4,600 less than a man in the same position, that’s division. Or when women CEOs are receiving just over 72% of their male counterparts earn, that’s division.
I am a feminist, Representative Akin. I want equality, nothing more or less. And as ridiculous as it may seem, the government has to mandate equality when a portion of the population is still letting outdated, bigoted ideas unfairly impact the lives of others.
Written by Caroline Slavin
Follow her on Twitter @hpcaro!