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Todd Akin: Employers Should Be Allowed To Pay Women Less Than Men Because Of 'Freedom'

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Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), the Senate candidate that drew criticism in August after making the inaccurate claim that the victims of "legitimate rape" can force their bodies to avoid pregnancy, also believes it's fair for employers to pay women less than men.

"I believe in free enterprise. I don't think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don't pay," Akin said at a town hall meeting on Thursday. The comment came in response to a question about Akin's decision to vote against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which has made it it easier for women to challenge unequal pay.

"I think it's about freedom," Akin added. "If somebody wants to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that's fine, however it wants to work. So, the government sticking its nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble."

Closing the female pay gap has proved difficult in recent decades. In the second quarter of 2012, the median female worker's earnings amounted to just 80 percent of the median male worker's earnings, according to the Labor Department, not much more than the 75 percent they earned in 1989, according to a separate study.

Though women more often work in lower-paying industries than men, some employers have been found to pay women less for equal work. Female chief executives earn roughly 72 percent of what their male counterparts make.

Akin has stayed in the Senate race in spite of calls from a number of Republican politicians to bow out. He currently leads his opposition, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), by one percentage point, according to the latest poll. McCaskill recently released the video of Akin's remarks on female pay.

(Hat tip: Talking Points Memo and ThinkProgress.)

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