Equal pay - the best Mother's Day present of all
In addition to sincere expressions of gratitude that Americans will extend to their mothers today, politicians will be thick on the landscape, extolling the virtues of motherhood and otherwise blowing kisses.
Fair public policy that helps millions of mothers cope with their daunting responsibilities is not among them.
Some in Congress, for example, repeatedly have shot down legislation that would guarantee equal pay for equal work. Regardless whether women are paid 33 percent less for equal work as claimed by the Obama administration, or between 9 percent and 19 percent less as claimed by other analyses, equalizing pay substantially would increase pay for millions of working mothers.
Recently, Senate conservatives prevented a floor vote on raising the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, women comprise less than 50 percent of the workforce but they are about 75 percent of the workforce in the 10 lowest-paid occupations and 60 percent of all minimum wage workers.
Opponents of minimum-wage increase contend that it applies mostly to new workers, often in part-time jobs held by teens.
But 75 percent of women working for the minimum wage are older than 20. At $7.25 an hour, a full-time worker would earn just over $15,000 a year, nearly $4,000 less than the federal poverty level for a mother and two children.
The situation is even worse for restaurant workers who depend on tips, nearly 70 percent of whom are women. For them, the federal minimum wage is a preposterous $2.13 an hour.
Other policy, the earned income tax credit, compensates somewhat for the miserable wages. But that, in effect, constitutes a federal subsidy to employers who pay low wages, as do food stamps and other public assistance upon which poor workers - especially low-income mothers with young children - must rely.
And, even while precluding equal pay and a higher minimum wage, some in Congress have launched an effort to replace the earned income tax credit with a measure that would cost the average low-income working mother about $2,000 a year.
And as Sen. Bob Casey pointed out last week in introducing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, pregnant women still face discrimination in some workplaces despite the society's supposed reverence for motherhood.
The bill would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women. Nationwide, about 2.6 million working women give birth each year, about 96,000 of whom work in Pennsylvania.
Everybody says they love moms. Fair public policy initiatives give politicians a chance to prove it.