Editor of The Weekly Standard Bill Kristol debated MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski over the causes and severity of the gender pay gap Thursday on Morning Joe.
Kristol argued it is against the law for employers to discriminate on the grounds gender.
Brzezinski interjected "but that law is broken everyday."
The Weekly Standard editor disagreed, noting women already have the ability to file lawsuits and "assert their rights if they're discriminated against." Moreover, he said when one controls for education and hours worked, the gender gap shrinks to 3 percent and younger educated women actually have higher salaries than men.
Brzezinski offered anecdotal testimonials in her rebuttal, telling Kristol "from the testimonials I've gotten from people in the aftermath of writing my book about this are that the numbers are far worse. They're Lilly Ledbetter's numbers. Women are getting paid half of what their counterparts make. You know why, because companies can do it and that law can be broken, and nobody knows about it."
Kristol replied the entire politicization of the Paycheck Fairness Act is odd considering President Obama's first bill he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Act. "So why suddenly in 2014 when the Obama administration is floundering and desperately trying to appeal to their base and rile up grievances, they decided go back to this issue. They passed the legislation they thought was necessary in 2009 and 2010. I’d like to see the president explain, or some other Democrat explain exactly what has changed that requires additional legislation," he said.
If Democrats were really interested in addressing perceived discrimination against women, Kristol suggested looking at the issue of Ayaan Hirsi Ali who recently had her honorary degree revoked from Brandeis over her criticism of Islam.
"Why is she critical of Islam? Because guess what, a lot of Islamic countries don't treat women very well and she was not treated well. She's made that one of her aspects of her human rights advocacy. So Brandeis caves into pressure, pulls the award. I've been very critical of Brandeis in the last 24 hours, but no one thinks it's because she's a woman, I don't think."
Brzezinski returned to the subject of gender based pay discrimination, asking Kristol to at least acknowledge that a fundamental problem exists.
"No. We agreed there might be individual problems, it does not exist in places that I've had some effect on. And it doesn't exist for a lot of people I know. It may exist elsewhere. If it does, people should devise targeted legislation to address it," Kristol said.
The MSNBC host replied with anecdotal evidence of rampant gender based pay discrimination. "For example I know a major magazine editor when this person was hired to take over the magazine immediately looked at the salaries, and there was complete discrepancy between men and women. The first thing this person did was fix that," she said.
Kristol suggested the White House should look at their own gender pay gap, which is "more disparate," and added Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) has offered legislation that would strengthen current laws pertaining to gender pay discrimination.
"I want to hear from her," Brzezinski said.