If businesses like the Augusta National Golf Club, home to the Masters tournament, can continue to deny women membership, then the government should withhold their tax breaks, says Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).
Maloney's Ending Tax Breaks for Discrimination Act, which she has introduced multiple times since 2003, prohibits businesses that discriminate on the basis of sex or race from deducting travel or advertising expenses from their taxes. Now, on Equal Pay Day and in light of the prestigious Georgia golf club's refraining from extending membership to IBM's new CEO, Virginia Rometty, because she is a woman, Maloney has reintroduced the bill with a new working title: the Equal Play at Augusta Act.
"When a woman, Virginia Rometty, took over as head of IBM, it was an excellent time for the [Augusta National Golf Club] to change that tradition of not admitting women," Maloney told The Huffington Post. "But instead of recognizing her and breaking with this outdated tradition, they decided to continue with this discrimination."
"I am filing a bill that really follows the example of when Congress passed Title IX for athletic equality," Maloney added. "Any organization or institution that discriminates against women or men should not be able to deduct the cost of doing business, such as their meetings, flights and food."
While there is no official count of how many private country clubs and other organizations in the United States discriminate against women, media outlets have identified at least 24 males-only country clubs since the Augusta club garnered attention in 2003.
If the bill makes it out of the House Ways and Means Committee this time around, it could put the GOP in an awkward position, since many prominent Republicans, including presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, former aspirant Rick Santorum, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), have publicly criticized the Augusta National Golf Club for not admitting women. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is a member of a Maryland all-male golf club, which makes the issue even more awkward for him.
But if Maloney's ultimate aim is to coax private males-only clubs into changing their policies, the support of influential Republican men can provide her with more leverage to do so.
"A woman can run a great company, she can run a country, she can run circles around her competition, she can be at the top of her profession, but Augusta National Golf Club believes she cannot be a member of its club simply because she is female," Maloney wrote in an April 13 letter to William Payne, the club's chairman. "There is a wide and growing consensus that this is a policy whose time has long since past. There are not many things in this world that Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, President Obama and I can all agree on. But this is one of them."
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