Todd Akin appeared to endorse allowing employers to pay women less than men at a town hall on Thursday.
Gender discrimination in compensation has been illegal in the United States since the passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act. But in video provided by Sen. Claire McCaskill’s campaign, Akin responded to a question about the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — which made it easier for workers to sue over unequal pay — by suggesting that employers shouldn’t even be barred from paying women less in the first place.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Why do you think it is okay for a woman to be paid less for doing the same work as a man?
AKIN: Well, first of all, the premise of your question is that I’m making that particular distinction. I believe in free enterprise. I don’t think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don’t pay. I think it’s about freedom. If someone what’s to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that’s fine, however it wants to work. So, the government sticking its nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble.
The McCaskill campaign condemned Akin’s remarks.
“First, Todd Akin said Claire’s not ‘ladylike’ because she’s standing up for working families, now he’s opposed to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act because he believes employers should have the freedom to discriminate against their female employees,” McCaskill spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki said in a statement. ”Once again, it’s clear that the problem isn’t what Todd Akin says, the problem is what Todd Akin believes.”