Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) isn't philosophically opposed to businesses paying men and women the same wages -- he just doesn't want the government to make sure that happens.
In an interview with the Springfield News-Leader editorial board on Monday, the Republican Senate candidate reiterated his opposition to the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which provides women with more legal channels through which to pursue equal pay for equal work. The legislation's passage was heavily opposed by Republicans.
"I don't have any problem with fair pay at all, I think that's a good idea," Akin said. "I have a healthy skepticism with big government getting in and trying to tell us everything we do in our lives."
Akin argued that Lilly Lebetter would "harm economic output in the country by further injecting government bureaucracy into private enterprises," according to the News-Leader.
At a town hall meeting last month, the congressman said allowing employers to pay whatever they want -- even if it means that men earn more -- is an issue of "freedom."
"I don't think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don't pay. I think it's about freedom," he said. "If someone wants to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that's fine, however it wants to work."
Akin made a similar argument to the News-Leader when he said he opposes the federal minimum wage, which is currently set at $7.25 per hour.
"I think if you want to talk about how much somebody is paid, that should be a discussion between the employee and the employer," he said. "We call it freedom. And for the government to stick its nose in and tell you how much you should pay somebody, I think it's just wrong. I think it’s taking our freedom away."
During a March debate, when Akin was still competing in the GOP primary, the congressman -- along with the other two candidates -- was unable to name the federal minimum wage.
"My guess is its somewhere in the 6 or 7, but I don't know the exact number right now," replied Akin.
At the time, he said he believed the minimum wage was "just another example of a wrong thing that the government does."
During an interview with KTRS last week, Akin said his opposition to the federal government setting wages is a "big fundamental difference" between himself and his opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
In a statement on Tuesday, McCaskill spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki said, "Todd Akin's in a hole with Missouri's women voters and he just keeps digging. Discrimination has no place in Missouri and Akin should be held accountable for his extreme views toward women in the workplace."
In August, Akin said he believed women who were victims of "legitimate rape" were physically able to shut down a pregnancy. His comments were condemned by both Republicans and Democrats, and national GOP leaders called on him to step out of the race. But once the withdrawal deadline passed, some Republicans -- such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and conservative pastors -- decided to help him out.
McCaskill currently leads Akin in the polls.
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