Step aside, "war on women," oil speculators, student loans, and Bain Capital. There's a new shiny object President Obama would like you to worry about, rather than contemplating this, this, or this: "Equal Pay" for Women. A reader passed along this email he received from the White House yesterday:
It's been nearly 50 years since Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, but today a woman who works full time still earns just 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man.That's not just unfair. When women, who make up nearly half the workforce, bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families. That's bad for kids, it's bad for communities, and it's bad for the entire country. So President Obama is supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is designed to update the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and help close the pay gap.
Let's humor the president's men for a moment and play along with this game. Five items: (1) Hasn't this president already signed another piece of equal pay legislation into law? Oh, that's right, the Lilly Ledbetter Act was his first legislative accomplishment upon taking office. Let's recall what he said about it back in 2009:
President Obama signed his first bill into law on Thursday, approving equal-pay legislation that he said would “send a clear message that making our economy work means making sure it works for everybody. It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness,” the president said.
He's continued to tout Ledbetter as an important achievement on the campaign trail this year. Is his sudden, frantic support for the Equal Pay Act update an admission that his previous fix has failed? Or is he simply trying to divide Americans and paint Republicans as anti-women in an election year? Gosh, I wonder.
(2) The Washington Post's fact checker has awarded the White House "One Pinnochio" for its pay discrepancy claims, arguing that Team Obama cherry-picked the crudest, most frightening data to advance a political agenda:
Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis surveyed economic literature and concluded that “research suggests that the actual gender wage gap (when female workers are compared with male workers who have similar characteristics) is much lower than the raw wage gap.” They cited one survey, prepared for the Labor Department, which concluded that when such differences are accounted for, much of the hourly wage gap dwindled, to about 5 cents on the dollar. Not only did the White House pick the statistic that makes the wage gap look the worst, but then officials further tweaked the numbers to make the situation for African Americans and Hispanics look even more dire.
So the more comprehensive comparison reveals that women make about 95 cents on the dollar compared to men. But why is there any gap at all? That trenchant question brings us to our next point...
(3) Women tend to earn less than men for reasons other than discrimination:
The main reason that women spend less time at work than men—and that women are unlikely to be the richer sex—is obvious: children. Today, childless 20-something women do earn more than their male peers. But most are likely to cut back their hours after they have kids, giving men the hours, and income, advantage.
Obama has already signed a measure barring wage discrimination. Will he propose a new effort to reverse the laws of biology as well?
(4) As Katie mentioned yesterday, the hypocrisy in all of this is galling. The Obama White House pays female staffers $11,000 less per year, on average, than their male counterparts. The average pay gap among Senate Democrats' male and female staffers is $6,500 per year. And one of the 'equal pay' cult's most fanatical backers, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, pays her female staff members nearly $27,000 less on average per annum, compared to men. Are these Democrats guilty of rank, anti-women bigotry, or do seniority and other factors explain these disparities? Care to explain this head-scratcher, Nancy? Nah:
"It's another world." Indeed.
(5) So if the Equal Pay Act is a redundant legislative concoction that won't actually solve a deeply distorted faux "crisis," and if it's loudest advocates don't even come close to practicing what they preach on so-called equality, what's the point of this push? Sure, they're trying to score points against the GOP, but there's also a ripe Democratic constituency that truly would benefit from this law:
The bill ought to be called the "Trial Lawyer Paycheck Act," since it is a recipe for a class-action boom. The law automatically lists women as plaintiffs in class actions when lawyers sue employers, thereby requiring female employees to opt-out of litigation with which they don't agree. Businesses would be treated as guilty until shown to be innocent, having to prove in court that their pay practices aren't the result of workplace bias. The legislation contains no caps on damage awards, allowing plaintiffs to claim unlimited punitive damages even in cases of unintentional discrimination.
A boon to trial lawyers and a job-crushing blow to businesses in an era of 15 percent real unemployment. Bravo, guys.