Obama has fallen into the 'pay equity' trap

Thomas Lifson
Apparently the Obama administration has run out of ideas and is reduced to distracting the nation from the Obamacare disaster with ammunition that explodes in its own face. Having declared in the Rose Garden that the debate is over on Obamacare, Obama needs shiny objects capture the attention of its base and motivate them to go to the polls.

The first demographic segment to have an issue dangled on a string is women. Hence the renewal of rhetoric on the “pay gap.”  But because the Obama administration faces the same demographic reality as the rest of the nation’s employers, on average, women who work on the White House staff earn less than men. The attempt to energize women with outrage over the purported injustice thus faces an obvious problem.

At an earlier stage of the Obama presidency the media claque could be counted upon to provide cover and brush under the rug any awkward comparisons of Obama administration behavior with its own rhetoric. But after 5+ years, the magic just isn’t working. Even with CBS News and the New York Times:

CBS (via the Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper):

"The White House is getting, as you indicated Norah, roughed up by its own pay equity rhetoric," reported Major Garrett. "In an analysis of White House salaries, which nobody here disputes,  shows that the median income of female staffers is 88 percent of that of male staffers."

"Now the study also showed that men and women with the same White House jobs earn exactly the same salary. Now the White House said its gender pay gap is tied to job experience, education, and hours worked among other factors. This matters because those explanations, according to the Labor Department, explain a good deal of the gender pay gap nationally. The big difference in these stories: When President Obama discusses this issue nationally, he doesn't mention those other work variables, only the broad figure, that 77 cents for every dollar is what women earn compared to men," said Garrett.

"When the factors that the White House used to defend its gender pay gap are used nationally, the Labor Department says the difference in median wages between men and women shrinks to about 5 cents to 7 cents on the dollar."

The New York Times:

Even as Mr. Obama seeks to make an issue of the gender gap in compensation across the country, however, his own hiring is facing some scrutiny. The recent study, by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, showed that the median annual salary for women in the White House last year was $65,000, while the median annual salary for men was $73,729. The study was based on White House salary data. (snip)

Jay Carney, the president’s press secretary, said the statistics for White House staff members reflect the fact that women fill more lower-level positions than men. But he said that women and men in the same positions at the White House are paid the same, and that many of the women hold senior positions.

“Men and women in equivalent roles here earn equivalent salaries,” Mr. Carney said. “Some of the most senior positions in the White House are filled by women, including national security adviser, homeland security adviser, White House counsel, communications director, senior adviser, deputy chief of staff.”

He said that the 88-cent statistic was misleading because it aggregates the salaries of White House staff members at all levels, including the lowest levels, where women outnumber men.

Exactly! And this is the source of the national disparities that the White House is decrying. When you explain away your offensive point with your defense, you lose the game.

If this is the best they have got, then Obama is in deep, deep trouble.

Apparently the Obama administration has run out of ideas and is reduced to distracting the nation from the Obamacare disaster with ammunition that explodes in its own face. Having declared in the Rose Garden that the debate is over on Obamacare, Obama needs shiny objects capture the attention of its base and motivate them to go to the polls.

The first demographic segment to have an issue dangled on a string is women. Hence the renewal of rhetoric on the “pay gap.”  But because the Obama administration faces the same demographic reality as the rest of the nation’s employers, on average, women who work on the White House staff earn less than men. The attempt to energize women with outrage over the purported injustice thus faces an obvious problem.

At an earlier stage of the Obama presidency the media claque could be counted upon to provide cover and brush under the rug any awkward comparisons of Obama administration behavior with its own rhetoric. But after 5+ years, the magic just isn’t working. Even with CBS News and the New York Times:

CBS (via the Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper):

"The White House is getting, as you indicated Norah, roughed up by its own pay equity rhetoric," reported Major Garrett. "In an analysis of White House salaries, which nobody here disputes,  shows that the median income of female staffers is 88 percent of that of male staffers."

"Now the study also showed that men and women with the same White House jobs earn exactly the same salary. Now the White House said its gender pay gap is tied to job experience, education, and hours worked among other factors. This matters because those explanations, according to the Labor Department, explain a good deal of the gender pay gap nationally. The big difference in these stories: When President Obama discusses this issue nationally, he doesn't mention those other work variables, only the broad figure, that 77 cents for every dollar is what women earn compared to men," said Garrett.

"When the factors that the White House used to defend its gender pay gap are used nationally, the Labor Department says the difference in median wages between men and women shrinks to about 5 cents to 7 cents on the dollar."

The New York Times:

Even as Mr. Obama seeks to make an issue of the gender gap in compensation across the country, however, his own hiring is facing some scrutiny. The recent study, by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, showed that the median annual salary for women in the White House last year was $65,000, while the median annual salary for men was $73,729. The study was based on White House salary data. (snip)

Jay Carney, the president’s press secretary, said the statistics for White House staff members reflect the fact that women fill more lower-level positions than men. But he said that women and men in the same positions at the White House are paid the same, and that many of the women hold senior positions.

“Men and women in equivalent roles here earn equivalent salaries,” Mr. Carney said. “Some of the most senior positions in the White House are filled by women, including national security adviser, homeland security adviser, White House counsel, communications director, senior adviser, deputy chief of staff.”

He said that the 88-cent statistic was misleading because it aggregates the salaries of White House staff members at all levels, including the lowest levels, where women outnumber men.

Exactly! And this is the source of the national disparities that the White House is decrying. When you explain away your offensive point with your defense, you lose the game.

If this is the best they have got, then Obama is in deep, deep trouble.