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Re-Arming the War on Women


wage gapRemember the 2012 GOP “War on Women”?

If you didn’t want to pay for a women’s contraception you were denying her “right to healthcare.” If you didn’t want to subsidize an abortion you were “attacking women and their right to birth control.” The Left wanted America to believe the GOP knuckle-draggers were determined to alienate half the electorate.

Put aside the lunacy of that argument for a moment and face the sobering fact: the War on Women worked. Obama won the women’s vote by 12 points. And like most successful campaign themes, the Dems are looking to repeat it in 2014. For this round, they’re adding a new weapon to the arsenal- the gender pay gap.

Last month, speaking at Valencia College in Orlando, President Obama pointed out that women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn, and then he called on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill has already failed twice.

The Paycheck Fairness Act requires employers to prove a “bona fide” reason for any pay disparity between men and women. Once charged with sex discrimination, the employer must prove his innocence. (I can’t see how such a law would be constitutional, but I’m sure John Roberts will find a way.) If the employer is unable to, the bill allows unlimited tort damages in addition to compensation. It also automatically includes all workers as part of a class-action lawsuit unless they opt out. Of course, the government is exempted from any damage claims.

Like all things Obama proposes that don’t pass, the reason the bill has failed thus far is because those opposed are simply not enlightened. As the President said, “we’ve got to get them to change their minds and join this century.” Oh, you ignorant knuckle-draggers.

After his speech he met with six working-class women to gather ideas about how to expand women’s opportunities. Then he jetted down to Miami to meet folks who paid thirty-two grand for the privilege of shaking his hand.

(In his speech Obama also promised to address the challenge of getting more women access to a college education. Three out of every five college students today are women, and women’s enrollment in community college is expected to increase by twenty percent over the next seven years, about three times the rate of men. But let’s not clutter the gender issue with facts.)

A few weeks later Betsey Stephenson, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, echoed the same lament regarding the gender pay gap. “They’re stuck at 77 cents on the dollar, and that gender wage gap is seen very persistently across the income distribution, within occupations, across occupations, and we see it when men and women are working side by side doing identical work.”

Whew, that’s pretty damning, right? Except when questioned by a reporter Ms Stephenson walked it back. Waaay back:

“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.”

So “side by side doing identical work” is not the same as “equal work.” Did I miss something? Apparently, yes:

“Seventy-seven cents captures the annual earnings of full-time, full-year women divided by the annual earnings of full-time, full-year men,” Stevenson clarified. “There are a lot of things that go into that 77-cents figure, there are a lot of things that contribute and no one’s trying to say that it’s all about discrimination….”

But, uhhh, aren’t the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act all about discrimination? For that matter, isn’t discrimination the basis for the War on Women?

Things got even more ticklish on April 8, “Equal Pay Day.” As Democrats gathered on the Hill to tout their support for Paycheck Fairness Act, McClatchy reported a nine cent pay gap for women working at the White House. Yes, the White House- the Beacon of Enlightenment, Arbiter of All Things This Century and Bulwark Against Knuckle Draggers. How can this be?

Press Secretary Jay Carney explained it this way: the studies “looked at the aggregate of everyone on staff, and that includes from the most junior levels to the most senior.”

Gee, isn’t the Wage Gap calculated the same way?

That didn’t stop the mainstream media from dutifully reporting the president’s crusade. One network news journalist referenced a Harvard study which noted men work longer hours than women. Then he said we need to fundamentally change the way workers are compensated by basing pay on results rather than long hours. Apparently long hours and results are unrelated.

Obama’s own Bureau of Labor Statistics, in their seminal 2009 report, warned against using the raw wage gap as a basis for policy. Even the uber-left American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that, when correcting for experience and type of work, the wage gap narrows to around seven cents. (Since they could not explain the remainder, they attributed it to discrimination.) The conservative American Enterprise Institute took a closer look and shaved it to a tick over three cents, basically within the margin of error. And a huge longitudinal study covering 11,000 college grads from 1979 to 2000 found that average wages for women exceeded men’s by about eight percent.

All that’s been conveniently ignored, of course. Instead, you can expect to hear a lot more on the gender pay gap as Obama plans similar outings for Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and New York.

After all, there’s a war on.

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