On Tuesday, President Obama will sign two equal pay executive orders: The Equal Pay Day order will protect contractors from retribution for discussing their salaries, and a presidential memorandum will require Labor Secretary Tom Perez to draft regulations for contractors to release salary summary reports broken down by race and gender, Politico reports. It's part of Democrats' focus on women's paychecks ahead of the 2014 elections. Getting women, especially single women, to the polls is key to the party's success this fall, and equal pay is one the issues where people tend to side with Democrats.
Obama's executive orders won't lead to any changes in the way women are paid — or affect companies that aren't contracted by the government at all — but the administration argues that they will lead to more pay transparency, and possibly encourage private businesses to release their data. And the Equal Pay Day order protects salary discussions "so workers have a potential way of discovering violations of equal pay laws and able to seek appropriate remedies," as a White House official told The Hill.
Democrats are also hoping this policy has some effect in November. They say their polling shows that focusing on conservative opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act is one of their most persuasive negative messages against the GOP with both men and women around the country, according to Politico. Republicans have noticed — as The Washington Post reported last month, GOP women on the campaign trail are arguing that the equal pay issue is a cover for Obamacare's failure. Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway said "Republicans recognize that this is also the Democratic party’s latest attempt to cry ‘squirrel!’" and draw attention away from the "unspooling of Obamacare." We're not sure if that strategy is polling as well.