Obama on Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: A 'Family,' 'Middle-Class' Issue

Gov. Romney says he sought to staff his cabinet with women, supports flexible hours.
3:00 | 10/16/12

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Transcript for Obama on Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: A 'Family,' 'Middle-Class' Issue
And it's Catherine Fenton. Who has a question for -- in what new ways do you intend to rectify the -- bodies in the workplace. Specifically regarding females making only 72%. Of what their male counterparts -- -- -- -- there's a great question and -- -- I was raised by single -- Who had put -- -- through school while looking after. Two -- And she worked hard every day and made a lot of sacrifices to make sure we got everything we -- my grandmother. She started off as a secretary at a bank she never got college education. You know she -- Smart as a whip and she worked her way up to become a vice president local bank but. She hit the glass -- She trained people. Who would end up becoming her bosses during the course of her career shouldn't complain that's not what you did in that generation. And this is one of the reasons why it one -- the first -- first bill I sign. Was -- called Lilly Ledbetter. And is named after this amazing woman who. Had been doing the same job as a man for years. Found out -- -- -- laughs and the Supreme Court said that she could bring suit because she should've found out about earlier where she had no way of finding out about. So we expect. And that's an example of the kind of advocates -- that we need because. Women. Our. Increasingly the breadwinners in the family. This does not just a women's issue this is -- family issued as a middle class issue. And that's why we've got to fight for. It also means that we've got to make sure that. Young people like yourself are able to afford a college education earlier governor Romney talked about he wants to make pell grants and other education. Accessible for young people. The truth the matter is is that that's exactly what we've done we've expanded pell grants for millions of people including millions of young women all across the country. We did it by taking sixty billion dollars that was going to -- And lenders as middlemen for the student loan program and we said. Let's just got out the middleman let's get the money directly to students and as a consequence we've seen millions of young people be able to afford college. And that's gonna make sure that young women are going to be able to compete in that marketplace but we've got enforce the laws which is what we are doing. And we've also got to make sure that in every walk of life. We do not tolerate discrimination. That's been one of the hallmarks of my administration. I'm gonna continue to push on this issue for the next four years. -- Romney pay equity for women. Thank you and important topic. And one which I learned a great deal about particularly as I was serving as governor by state. Because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seem to be -- And I and I went to my staff and assess how come all the people for these jobs are -- managed -- -- these of the people that have the qualifications and I civil gosh can't wait. Can we find some some women that are also qualified. And and -- we took a concerted effort to go lot of find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said can you help us find folks I brought us -- binders full of of women. I was proud of the fact that after right staffed by cabinet in my senior staff. That the university of New York in Albany to the survey of all fifty states. And concluded that mine had more women and senior leadership positions than any of the state America. Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort but number two. Because I recognize that if you're gonna have women in the workforce that sent as a need to be more flexible. My chief of staff for instance I had two kids that we're still in school she said I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for Macon -- for my kids and being with them when they get on preschool so we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedules so you can have hours -- work for you we're gonna have to have employers in the new economy in the economy I'm gonna bring it to play. They're gonna be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women. In the in the last four years women have lost 580000. Jobs. That's the net of what's happened in the last four years we're still down five -- 80000 jobs I mentioned three and a half million women. More now in poverty than four years ago. What we can do to help young women. And women of all ages is to have a strong economy so strong that employers are looking to find good employees. And bringing them into their workforce and -- adapting to a flight a flexible work schedule that gives women the opportunities that. That they would otherwise not be able to to afford. That this is what I've done. It's what I look forward to doing and I know what it takes to make an economy work. I know what a working economy looks like. And economy with seven point 8% unemployment is not a real strong economy. An economy that. That that has 23 million people looking for work is not a strong economy an economy. With with 50% of kids graduating from college they can't find a job. Or college level job that's that we have to have and it helped women in America get what get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the work. Mr. President might get an -- that quickly please get dry just one point out that one governor Romney's campaign was asked about the Lilly Ledbetter bill. Whether -- -- he said August factory. And that's not -- -- have to concede that women need in any economy. Now. -- some other issues that have a bearing on how women succeed in the workplace. For example their doctor. -- a major difference in this campaign. Is that. Governor Romney. Feels comfortable having politicians in Washington decide. The health care choices that women are -- I think that's a mistake. In my health care bill I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage. To everybody who -- in short. Because this is not just a health issue it's an economic issue for women. It makes a difference this is money out of that family's pocket. Governor Romney not only opposed it. He suggested that in fact employer should be able to make the decision as to whether. Or not a woman gets. Contraception -- -- insurance coverage. That's not the kind of advocates see that women. When governor Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood there are. Millions of women all across the country. Who rely on Planned Parenthood for not just got a subject -- that -- -- it for mammograms. For cervical cancer screenings. That's a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country. And it makes a difference in terms of how well and effectively women are able to work. When we talk about child care. And the credits that were providing. That makes a difference in terms of whether they can go out there and earn a living for -- them. These are not just women's issues. These -- family issues these -- economic issues. And one of the things that makes us role as an economy is when everybody participates and women are getting the same fair deal as -- -- And I've got two daughters and I want to make sure. That -- at the same opportunities. That anybody -- That's part of what I'm fighting force -- the United States.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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