Well, the July 31 Democratic debate has certainly been a wild ride. From hecklers to ill-timed jokes, the ten remaining 2020 presidential candidates have withstood a lot of drama during tonight's political showdown. However, there were still some important political moments that came from this debate, and these answers on equal pay at the July 31 Democratic debate were straight-forward and stuck to the facts.
Near the end of the second night of Democratic debates, moderators asked candidates about the gender pay gap between men and women in the workforce, and how they would address the issue. While each candidate shared their opinion, candidates Andrew Yang and Sen. Kamala Harris of California stood out. Yang, an entrepreneur, brought up how many women face harassment, but don't have the means to improve their situation, not to mention his acknowledgement of the unpaid labor that many women perform in their daily lives.
"We have to think about women in every situation, including the ones who are in exploitative or abusive jobs and relationships around the country," he said. "I’m talking about the waitress who’s getting harassed by her boss at the diner, who might have a business idea but right now is stuck where she is. What we have to do is we have to give women he economic freedom to be able to improve their own situations, and the best way to do this by putting a dividend of $1,000 a month into their hands."
He also addressed the types of unpaid labor, like child care, often done by women. "We know that women do more of the unrecognized and uncompensated labor in our society," he noted.
Harris, in turn, responded to the equal pay issue by stating some important facts — specifically how women of color are paid disproportionally compared to other workers. "Women are paid 80 cents on the dollar. Black women: $0.61. Native American women: $0.58. Latinas: $0.53," Harris said.
After those important facts, Harris later revealed that she was "done with the conversation" and she would issue a fine on companies that do not pay women and men equally. She said,
Since 1963 when we passed the Equal Pay Act, we have been talking about the fact that women are not paid equally for equal work. ... I'm done with the conversation. Under my plan, companies will be fined if they're not paying men and women equally.
Harris and Yang's responses addressed major issues facing women in the workforce, but they weren't the only ones who spoke on the matter. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York asked the question many of us are thinking by saying, "It's 2019. Why is equal pay for equal work even up for debate?"
However, Gillibrand then turned her attention to former Vice President Joe Biden, and cited an old op-ed he wrote apparently criticizing women working outside the home, following his vote against a 1981 bill that would expand a child care tax credit. Biden responded to Gillibrand's criticism by stating he supported tax credit for low-income families, but not for upper-class families. For a few moments, Biden and Gillibrand went back and forth discussing this issue, and it was a heated debate.
Meanwhile, former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julián Castro stuck to the facts. The candidate voiced his opposition to the unequal pay, and stated that he would pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to make sure women were paid "equal pay for equal work." He said,
I know what it's like to struggle. I know what it's like to rent a home and worry about whether you're going to be able to pay the rent at the first of the month. To see a mom work very, very hard, and know moms across this country are being paid less simply because they're women, I would do several things starting with something we should have done a long time ago, which is to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, finally in this country. Also, pursue legislation so that women are paid equal pay for equal work in this country. It's past time that we did that, and we have to do this. If we want to be the most prosperous nation in the 21st century we need to make sure women are paid what they deserve.
Just like that, the second round of Democratic debates are officially over. The July 31 showdown was definitely one for the books, and brought up some important issues. Let's see what candidates have to say on equal pay, not to mention everything else, during the next round.