Apr. 9, 2014

The White House Equal Pay Bait and Switch

The Left keeps warning of the “war on women” to get votes.

Barack Obama signed two executive orders Tuesday aimed at prohibiting federal contractors from keeping employee wages a secret and compelling them to provide sex-specific compensation data. These actions are designed to make wages transparent for companies working with the federal government and to allow women who think they’re underpaid to challenge their employers. The signing ceremony took place on what has been called Equal Pay Day, the day on which women supposedly finally match the wages men made the previous calendar year. According to the statistics spouted by the Left, women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn. However, this “statistic” is erroneous at best.

The 77-cents figure is simply an aggregate number based on the averages of wages for women and men in the U.S. It does not take into account several factors. Women frequently leave the workforce to have and raise children, delaying their level of experience and skill acquisition in many industries. Men are more prone to work dangerous jobs that pay more. In 2012, 92% of workplace fatalities were male. Also more men take jobs in banking and finance, which have higher wage risks but also higher rewards. Among the college educated, women tend to embrace lower-paid professions that require only liberal arts degrees, while men tend to fill more jobs that require extensive study like engineering and medicine. When these factors are taken into account, the wage line between men and women virtually disappears.

And if corporations were as greedy as the Left maintains, wouldn’t they hire more women if they could really get away with paying them so much less?

The White House would rather not look at the specifics, though. Indeed, despite acknowledging that the “77 cents” number is bunk, they will continue to use it anyway. Betsey Stevenson, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters that women are “stuck at 77 cents on the dollar … across the income distribution, within occupations, across occupations, and we see it when men and women are working side by side doing identical work.” When pressed by reporters, Stevenson was forced to walk back her statement, saying, “If I said 77 cents was equal pay for equal work, then I completely misspoke. So let me just apologize and say that I certainly wouldn’t have meant to say that.” Oh, well never mind then.

Except that Barack Obama repeated that very claim after the aforementioned exchange, playing to low-info voters who won’t know the difference.

Ironically, if there is any place where men and women are not treated equally regarding their pay, it’s in the White House. Women make 88 cents on the dollar compared to men, and in the White House, just how varied can the work really be? Either way, Press Secretary Jay Carney says, rest assured, “What I can tell you is that we have, as an institution here, have aggressively addressed this challenge, and obviously, though, at the 88 cents that you cite, that is not a hundred, but it is better than the national average.”

Obama’s argument for equal pay is many things, but it has nothing to do with fairness in the marketplace. Closing the so-called equal-pay gap between men and women is a bright shiny object for the White House to use to distract from its other policy disasters from ObamaCare to Russia. Democrats will spend the rest of this year fighting against the imaginary “war on women.” Obama’s executive order is a power grab that allows the government to inject its will upon the private sector. And it’s also an opportunity for Obama to take the country one step closer to dictatorship as he once again flaunts the constitutional process for his own political gain.

> Be sure to read Mark Alexander’s essay on the Art of the Big Lie.

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