More to the point, Obama's speech on women's issues yesterday makes the distinction between the two candidates unambiguous. Obama supports equal pay, anti-discrimination protections, and most importantly paid family leave. Amen. Here's an excerpt:
Now Senator McCain is an honorable man, and we respect his service. But when you look at our records and our plans on issues that matter to working women, the choice could not be clearer.
It starts with equal pay. 62 percent of working women in America earn half – or more than half – of their family’s income. But women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. In 2008, you’d think that Washington would be united in its determination to fight for equal pay. That’s why I was proud to co-sponsor the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which would have reversed last year’s Supreme Court decision, which made it more difficult for women to challenge pay discrimination on the job.
But Senator McCain thinks the Supreme Court got it right. He opposed the Fair Pay Restoration Act. He suggested that the reason women don’t have equal pay isn’t discrimination on the job – it’s because they need more education and training. That’s just totally wrong. Lilly Ledbetter’s problem was not that she was somehow unqualified or unprepared for higher-paying positions. She most certainly was, and by all reports she was an excellent employee. Her problem was that her employer paid her less than men who were doing the exact same work.
John McCain just has it wrong. He said the Fair Pay Restoration Act “opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems.” But I can’t think of any problem more important than making sure that women get equal pay for equal work. It’s a matter of equality. It’s a matter of fairness. That’s why I stood up for equal pay in the Illinois State Senate, and helped pass a law to give 330,000 more women protection from paycheck discrimination. That’s why I’ve been fighting to pass legislation in the Senate, so that employers don’t get away with discriminating against hardworking women like Lilly Ledbetter. And that’s why I’ll continue to stand up for equal pay as President. Senator McCain won’t, and that’s a real difference in this election.
As the son of a single mother, I also don’t accept an America that makes women choose between their kids and their careers. It’s not acceptable that women are denied jobs or promotions because they’ve got kids at home. It’s not acceptable that forty percent of working women don’t have a single paid sick day. That’s wrong for working parents, it’s wrong for America’s children, and it’s not who we are as a country.
I’ll be a President who stands up for the American family by giving all working parents a hand. To help with childcare, I’ll expand the Child and Dependent Care tax credit, so that working families can receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses. I’ll double funding for afterschool programs that help children learn and give parents relief. And I’ll invest $10 billion to guarantee access to quality, affordable, early childhood education for every child in America.
And with more and more households headed by two working parents – or a single working parent – it’s also time to dramatically expand the Family and Medical Leave Act. Since more Americans are working for small businesses, I’ll expand FMLA to cover businesses with as few as 25 employees – this will reach millions of American workers who aren’t covered today. We’ll also allow workers to take leave to care for elderly parents. We’ll allow parents to take 24 hours of annual leave to join school activities with their kids. And we’ll cover employees who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.
I’ll also stand up for paid leave. Today, 78 percent of workers covered by FMLA don’t take leave because it isn’t paid. That’s just not fair. You shouldn’t be punished for getting sick or dealing with a family crisis. That’s why I’ll require employers to provide all of their workers with seven paid sick days a year. And I’ll support a 50-state strategy to adopt paid-leave systems, and set aside $1.5 billion to fund it. I have a clear plan to expand paid leave and sick leave, Senator McCain doesn’t, and that’s a real difference in this election.