The Political Payoff Behind ‘Paycheck Fairness’

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from The wall Street Journal,

Meet the members of the 1% whom Obama wants to make even richer.

To understand President Obama’s legislative agenda, follow the money.

At a Houston fundraising dinner last week, Mr. Obama criticized Senate Republicans for opposing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which he called “common sense” legislation “to meaningfully enforce the simple concept of equal pay for equal work.”

Here’s what the president didn’t say. It’s been illegal since the 1963 Equal Pay Act to pay men and women with equal years of service a different wage for the same work. No matter. The Paycheck Fairness Act is a political twofer.

First, Mr. Obama hopes the bill will drive up turnout for the midterms among younger women, where he’s got problems. His job approval among women in the April 13 Gallup survey was 46%, just above his national average—and down from 54% a year ago. This decline was reflected in an April 8 Democracy Corps poll that found 58% of likely unmarried women voters will support Democrats this fall, less support than even in 2010, when Democrats were buried nationally.

Second, the Paycheck Fairness Act would reward one of the Democrats’ most generous sources of ready cash: wealthy personal-injury lawyers.

The same day as his Houston fundraiser, Mr. Obama also attended a roundtable with 25 donors at the mansion of Steve and Amber Mostyn. Mr. Mostyn is president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and made $150 million from lawsuits over hurricane insurance. He vows to spend $10 million this year to help Mr. Obama’s national campaign field director, Jeremy Bird, to “turn Texas blue,” changing the Lone Star State from reliably Republican to comfortably Democratic, starting with this fall’s gubernatorial election.

Messrs. Williams and Mostyn have each contributed millions to Democratic candidates and raised tens of millions more. Mr. Obama would reward trial lawyers like them with the Paycheck Fairness Act. How so?

Section 3 (a) of the bill would remove the presumption of innocence for companies accused of wage discrimination. They would now be presumed guilty unless they can pass three difficult tests, which could be invalidated if a plaintiff demonstrates “an alternative employment practice exists” and the employer refused to adopt it. Just tell your boss what to do and when she doesn’t, sue her.

This is more than an open invitation to lawsuits. It’s practically an order to companies to settle any suits filed against them.

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