President Obama released a new campaign ad in Virginia today pandering to female voters by trying to promote the president’s record on women’s rights. Too bad when it comes to male/female pay discrepancies, Obama is pushing a non-issue.
The ad will air in Virginia as well as Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Nevada, and Ohio.
According to the Obama campaign, the 30-second “First Law” ad is the “first in a series of television advertisements that highlight President Obama’s commitment to issues important to women and their families.”
But in this ad, Obama takes advantage of a political myth. In fact, pay inequality, where it does exist, is often justified.
Kay Hymowitz, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, points to the numbers. It turns out that women actually work fewer hours than men. Women make up two-thirds of America’s part-time workforce; according to the Labor Department, almost 55 percent of workers logging more than 35 hours a week are men. In 2007, 25 percent of men working full-time jobs had workweeks of 41 hours or more, compared with only 14 only of female full-time workers.
Additionally, Forbes contributor Lisa Gates stressed that the wage gape statistic doesn’t compare two similarly situated co-workers of different sexes, working in the same industry, performing the same work, for the same number of hours a day. The Department of Labor’s studies reflect the median earnings of all men and women classified as full-time workers in the aggregate—not taking into account the differences between those jobs.
Unsurprisingly, children play an important role in work-life decisions. Women who have children or plan to have children tend to trade higher pay for more flexible positions while men seek to earn more money in order to support those children. A 2007 Pew survey found that 60 percent of mothers with minor children said that part-time work was their ideal, and another 19 percent preferred not to work outside the home at all.
Concerning Lilly Ledbetter, whom the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is named after, she waited more than five years after discovering a pay disparity between her and her male co-workers to file a claim under the Civil Rights Act (at the time, the law allowed for 300 days). In her case, the executive accused of discrimination had died by the time the complaint was brought and a federal magistrate judge found that Ledbetter received consistently poor work evaluations.
Never mind that her poor evaluations may have been responsible for the pay discrepancy, but after so much time has passed, it becomes nearly impossible to pull out the truth and the only parties who benefit from continued and drawn out litigation are lawyers. And trial lawyers just happen to be big Democratic Party donors.
Congress outlawed sex discrimination in wages half a century ago with the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and expanded those protections with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, and the 1991 amendments to the Civil Rights Act.
Women are not the victims of a sexist economy. Rather, women are being exploited and lied to in order for Obama to capitalize on the current “war on women” narrative.
And Obama appears to need all the political leverage he can get. A CBS News/New York Times poll released in May shows that Mitt Romney is leading women 46 percent to Obama’s 44 percent.
Obama’s blatant pandering doesn’t appear to be helping him, mostly because his policies directed at women create “solutions” where no problems exist and use statistics selected for political purposes rather than accuracy. For Obama, pay equality is just another opportunity to profit.