The XX Factor

Scott Walker Argues That Equal Pay Pits Women Against Men

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, pictured in Orlando, Florida, in 2015, wants you to believe equal pay pits men against women. 

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has gone on the offensive against women again, despite the backlash against his previous ugly remarks about rape victims seeking abortionAs reported by Right Wing Watch, Boston Herald Radio host Adriana Cohen asked him about the issue of equal pay for women, using largely discredited numbers to accuse Hillary Clinton as a hypocrite who pays her staff unequally. Walker could have scored the easy point on hypocrisy and left it at that. Instead he doubled down on why he finds it so offensive to be for equal pay in the first place.

“But I think even a bigger issue than that,” he said, “and this is sadly something that would make her consistent with the president, and that is I believe that the president and now Hillary Clinton tend to think that politically they do better if they pit one group of Americans versus another.” 

Walker added that Democrats’ “measure of success in government is how many people are dependent on the government, how many people are dependent, on whether it’s Medicaid or food stamps or health care or other things out there.”

That’s the way to win women’s vote, Walker: Imply that their paychecks are akin to government handouts. This line of argument started by telling women that their contraception health care benefits—which women work for—are also government handouts, so framing their actual pay in the same way isn’t that big a leap. 

Walker’s implication on equal pay is that Democrats are pitting men against women. But when women make more money, men do better. For couples, when the woman is underpaid, that means less money overall for the household. Sixty percent of married couples with children are two-income families: When those women make less, the men’s standard of living goes down alongside theirs. That’s where Walker misses the sense in helping women become less dependent on men.

Walker is the one actually stoking conflict by falsely implying that advocating for women puts them in opposition to men. He makes it sound as though equal pay for women takes away from men. But for most men, the numbers don’t lie: More money in women’s paychecks means more cash in men’s wallets.