The State Department last week submitted a report to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the first time the United States has provided such a self-accounting under the U.N.’s Universal Periodic Review. The basic message is that the United States is deeply flawed, injustice abounds, but the Obama Administration is bringing us into a new age of enlightenment and justice.
This document gives a partial snapshot of the current human rights situation in the United States, including some of the areas where problems persist in our society. In addressing those areas, we use this report to explore opportunities to make further progress and also to share some of our recent progress. For us, the primary value of this report is not as a diagnosis, but rather as a roadmap for our ongoing work within our democratic system to achieve lasting change.
The Administration believes that roadmap directs us to the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would further inject the federal government into every hiring and pay decision in the private sector while opening employers to a new wave of pay discrimination lawsuits.
37. As one of President Obama’s first official acts, he signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which helps women who face wage discrimination recover their lost wages. Shortly thereafter, the President created the White House Council on Women and Girls to seek to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly and equally in all matters of public policy. Thus, for instance, the Administration supports the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will help ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work.
The one thing the bill would help ensure is litigation. It allows unlimited punitive and compensatory damages in cases of suspected discrimination, while changing class-action suits from a system of “opt-in” to “opt-out,” giving trial lawyers additional leverage to pressure companies into huge settlements. (The National Association of Manufacturers has prepared a ManuFACTS sheet that details the legislation’s many anti-employer provisions.)
When each new employee is a potential lawsuit, why would a company hire anyone?
Senate Majority Reid filed cloture on the latest version of the bill, S. 3722, making its consideration possible in next week’s lame-duck session of Congress. The original Senate bill, S. 182, was introduced by Sen. Hillary Clinton in January 2009 before she became Secretary of State, a position from which she now promotes the same bad idea.
If jobs and the economy are truly a priority for the President and his Administration, he will ask Sen. Reid to make certain the Paycheck Fairness Act is removed from the Senate’s schedule and relegated to the vault of bad legislation.
And drop the appeals to the United Nations. Employers in the United States have enough problems without having their own government imply they fall short when it comes to human rights. With this report, Administration sends a message, “We really don’t think very highly of business.”
(Hat tip: Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, writing at National Review Online’s The Corner, a post, “The U.S. as U.N. Punching Bag.“)