WASHINGTON -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) suggested Tuesday that a bill designed to bring women's pay up to the level of men's wages would have created some sort of paycheck Politburo.
The Paycheck Fairness Act failed in the Senate on a strictly party line vote on Tuesday. Senate Democrats had argued that the measure was essential because women still receive only 77 cents for every dollar paid to men doing the same job.
But Paul, a staunch libertarian, said passing a law that would have given judges more leeway to determine if a woman had been paid unfairly would be a step toward reviving the Soviet Union's notorious central governing body here. The United States' free market, he argued, works much better at setting wages at the appropriate level.
"Three hundred million people get to vote everyday on what you should be paid or what the price of goods are," Paul told reporters on Capitol Hill. "In the Soviet Union, the Politburo decided the price of bread, and they either had no bread or too much bread. So setting prices or wages by the government is always a bad idea."
Asked specifically about the lingering pay gap between men and women, the Kentucky senator did not back down, insisting that Americans would be ceding freedom if judges had more say over pay.
"Everybody gets to vote, and it's voluntary. Everybody votes, and the marketplace decides what wages are. No one person does," Paul said. "The minute you set up a fairness czar to determine what wages are, you give away freedom. When you give that power to someone to make decisions, they may well discriminate in favor of whoever they want to discriminate in favor of. The market just makes decisions on your ability to do your job."
Michael McAuliff covers politics and Congress for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.