One of the cornerstones of the American experiment is that all men are created equal, subsequent amendments and court rulings clarifies that all men and women are equal in the eyes of the law regardless of race, creed, or color, but reality does not always resemble the law.
The 14th Amendment guarantees the equal protection of the law for all American citizens, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifically forbids discrimination based on sex or race in the work place, yet women only make 78 cents on the dollar compared to men and minorities only make 75 cents on the dollar as compared to white males.
This discrimination comes at a cost of $550 billion a year in lost wages for women, and when you factor in minorities, you are looking at a loss of $1 trillion in wages each year. This not only affects the lives of the majority of U.S. citizens, it significantly retards our economy as a whole.
To sit here and say that we can eliminate the wage gap would be misleading. The simple fact is that as long as there are people who wish to discriminate against others, there will be some who are able to skirt the law and get away with the discrimination. However, that does not mean we cannot make significant progress in ending wage discrimination.
I believe that a realistic goal would be to get the pay of women and minorities up to 90 cents on the dollar. This would mean an injection of over $600 billion in new wages each year (equal to 15.8% of the total U.S. economy). Closing the gap to 90% would also mean more than $150 billion in new tax revenues.
For the last several years, Democrats have been trying to pass a bill known as “the Paycheck Fairness Act,” which would add protections and increase the ability of the government to enforce the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The Paycheck Fairness act would go a long way towards solving the problem of women, but it does practically nothing for minorities that are suffering from the same wage discrimination.
Any legislation that addresses the wage gap and does not address pay discrimination against minorities will only solve half the problem. That is why I would offer legislation similar to the Paycheck Fairness Act that would include minorities and increase the penalties that can be imposed against employers who still choose to disobey the law.
The importance of this issue is often overlooked. We overlook the families that are affected by pay discrimination and we overlook the effect that more than $600 billion in lost wages has on the economy.
To put it in perspective, $600 billion is more than twice what the federal government spends on Medicaid, it is more than eight-times the government expenditures on food stamps, or enough to buy every NFL football team more than 13 times. The increased tax revenue alone would equal the federal education budget.
That is a tremendous amount of money, money that is being illegally withheld from American workers.
We cannot continue to allow the majority of Americans to have a quarter or more of their income stolen from them before they even get it.
Many of our elected officials would like for you to believe that there is nothing that we can do, or it would destroy the economy to correct pay discrimination, but that is just not the case. In reality, ending pay discrimination would spur economic growth because the majority of American families will have more disposable income to spend on goods and services. It will reduce the number of Americans receiving government aid and raise millions of families out of poverty.
Eleven part series on my 9-point economic plan:
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