Susan Hutchison, the new chair of Washington’s Republican Party, is warning that her party has provided a clear example of the “war on women” by paying her about $20,000 less than her male predecessor, according to a report in the Seattle Times.
Hutchison makes about $75,000 a year — significantly less than the previous chair, Kirby Wilbur, who made $95,000. When she requested a pay raise last weekend, she was shot down by the state GOP executive board — and then criticized the decision in a memo obtained by the Times:
Hutchison argued that vote had violated the party’s bylaws and could be viewed as “discriminatory and vindictive” — and even play into the hands of Democrats who have talked up the GOP’s problems among female voters.
“The pay cut defies the concept of equal pay for equal work, playing into the ‘war on women’ narrative against Republicans,” Hutchison wrote. She added she’d personally raised $22,000 from 18 non-Republican Party donors from her personal list of contacts — “which more than covers” the $20,000 pay raise.
“I left the meeting demoralized, and so did my hardworking staff. I heard that some of you felt beat up and angry, while others were very pleased. This kind of division over something so minor is not what will move us forward,” Hutchison wrote.
Hutchison’s problem is far from unique; on average, American women make only 77 cents for each dollar a man makes.
The Times further reported that other party leaders were “dismayed” at the frank language in Hutchison’s memo, presumably fearing the negative publicity that could accompany it. “There is no war on women,” one anonymous GOP source told the newspaper.
It makes sense that Washington Republicans would be sensitive to accusations of sexism. After all, Kirby Wilbur — Hutchison’s predecessor — is arguably best known for dismissing immigration protesters as “left-wing witches and hags” who “look so old and ugly.”
But, much like the national Republican Party, the Washington GOP’s concern is misplaced. To them, the problem isn’t that Hutchison makes $20,000 less than her male predecessor; it’s that she’s talking about it out loud. Sure, it would have been helpful for Republicans if Hutchison had kept quiet. But they would be even better off if they neutralized the “war on women” argument by supporting policies that actually support women. Maybe the Paycheck Fairness Act would be a good place to start.
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