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The growing importance of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Yesterday, as you may have heard, was Equal Pay Day. It's the day that marks how much longer American women have to work to earn the same amount of money American men make in the same positions -- so if we use Jan. 1, 2011 as a starting date, what men made as of Dec. 31 is equal to what women made as of yesterday.

With this in mind, Mitt Romney's remarkably vague position on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act matters, and is of growing importance every day.

The Romney campaign didn't want to take a position last week, and when ABC's Diane Sawyer asked the presumptive Republican nominee about the law this week, Romney said he supports equal pay, and wouldn't "intend" to change the Fair Pay Act, but he refused to say whether he would have supported it when it became law in 2009.

Some Romney allies are choosing to be far more forthcoming. In Michigan, Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Pete Hoekstra, a longtime Romney ally, last week called the law "a nuisance." In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, a man Romney has described as a "hero," repealed a state version of the Fair Pay Act.

And in New Hampshire yesterday, state GOP Executive Director Tory Mazzola, a top Romney surrogate in New Hampshire, went even further.

For those who can't watch clips online, Mazzola said of the Lilly Ledbetter law, "Instead of being about fair pay, it is really about a handout to trial lawyers because it expands the areas that people can sue their employers unnecessarily."

Taken together, we have a story of growing importance, especially in light of the Romney campaign offensive on women's issues last week.

As we talked about on the show last night, the questions are obvious: does Romney support the Fair Pay Act or not? Does he agree with his own surrogates? When nearly every Republican in Congress voted against the legislation, were they right or wrong?

Rachel explained, "It is one thing to say you support the outcome that somehow women and men should be paid equally. But given the fact they are not paid equally now, should we fix it? Should there be a policy implemented to help fix that?"

These need not be rhetorical questions.