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Pro-con on Paycheck Fairness Act

According to a new Center for American Progress report, "more than 12 million families with children rely primarily on women's earnings," and in almost every state, more than a third of moms are the primary breadwinner. Yet in recent years, the wage gap for full-time workers has hovered at 77 percent — meaning women on average earn 77 cents of every dollar earned by a man. Career wage gaps are the largest in management and finance, sales and professional occupations. Plus, women now receive more than 60 percent of bachelor's and master's degrees, but it's not helping them pad their wallets. On average, women with college degrees will earn $723,000 less than male peers during their careers. The troubling point highlighted in the report is that this wage gap persists 50 years after the Equal Pay Act was passed. But the Paycheck Fairness Act passed the House last year and is before the Senate. It would be wise of businesses and government to act quickly and forcefully to close this gap for good. Otherwise, millions of families will suffer. — Jenna Goudreau, ForbesWoman

Tuesday was Equal Pay Day. Feminist groups and political leaders have set aside this day to protest the fact that women's wages are, on average, 78 percent of men's wages. This holiday has no basis in reality. Even feminist economists acknowledge that today's pay disparities are almost entirely the result of women's different life choices. This is not to deny that some employers will try to pay Jill 78 cents and Jack $1 for an identical job. But our strict laws give Jill the right to take that employer to court. The claim that American women as a group face systemic wage discrimination is groundless. The Senate is holding hearings on the misleadingly named Paycheck Fairness Act. Under this convoluted and impenetrably murky law, feminist lawyers will file multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuits and innocent employers will settle. Liability will be based on not only intentional discrimination (we already have laws against that) but on the "lingering effects of past discrimination." What does that mean? Employers have no idea. If the Paycheck Fairness Act passes, it will wreak havoc in the American workplace. — Christina Hoff Sommers, American Enterprise Institute