Predictably, now that Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin has refused to step aside for a more presentable wingnut, the GOP operatives who tried to get rid of him are now rallying ’round.

Of course it’s not entirely fair to pin all Akin’s lunatic beliefs on his supporters. But on one point he’s entirely orthodox: his disapproval of employment-discrimination laws. When he says:

I believe in free enterprise. 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. If someone what’s 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.

he’s right in the GOP mainstream: only three Republicans voted for the Lily Ledbetter law Akin voted against.

Note that, as a matter of logic, it makes no sense to support laws against discrimination in hiring (against women or blacks or gays or Jews) if you oppose laws against discrimination in pay, since an employer could simply offer members of the groups he doesn’t want to hire a wage of zero.

Wouldn’t this be a nice question to ask Mitt Romney? Does he agree or disagree with the proposition that free enterprise includes the right to discriminate in employment?

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

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Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.