The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

White House’s phony wage gap figures spur a backlash

I’m betting the White House staffer who thought up the equal pay initiative is getting some fairly icy looks and snippy calls from Democrats. This has to be the worst idea since a staffer sent Air Force One’s backup plane to fly low over Manhattan. But at least the jet didn’t cause grief to fellow Democrats around the country. Day 2 of the president’s equal pay calamity continued today. A few highlights:

The Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson catches the White House in its time warp, citing an e-mail in which working women bear an uncanny resemblance to Betty Draper:

She The People is constantly on the look out for how women are represented, so we couldn’t help but notice the White House’s depiction of two working women in an e-mail message they sent out Tuesday, announcing President Obama’s new executive actions on equal pay. Aren’t those super high heels exactly what working women wear to work?  “Mad Men” comes to mind. Or maybe these women are at some sort of cocktail party, because that’s exactly where women head after the working day is done.


The Kentucky media catch Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes fleeing from reporters who want to know why the candidate hawking the war on women turned a blind eye toward workplace harassment in her own workplace. Sam Youngman reports:

After her speech, Grimes worked the crowd at the downtown Hilton and left, refusing to speak with reporters about a decision made hours earlier by the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission to not punish former state Rep. John Arnold of Sturgis. Three legislative aides have accused Arnold of sexual harassment, saying that he touched them inappropriately. The deciding vote against punishing Arnold was cast by Elmer George, who has contributed $5,200 to Grimes’ campaign and was appointed to the commission late last year by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who has played a major role at several campaign events for Grimes.
Grimes’s spokeswoman, Charly Norton, said the candidate had to “get home,” which is less than a mile from where the dinner was held. The candidate, who added a line about freedom of the press to her standard stump speech Tuesday night, refused to acknowledge reporters who walked out of the hotel with her. Earlier in the day, Grimes joined national Democrats in pushing for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act on what Democrats termed Equal Pay Day.
Meanwhile, the Legislative Ethics Commission voted 4-1 to punish Arnold for allegedly abusing his position as a public official, but five votes are needed to approve an action by the nine-member commission. George voted no, saying he did not think the commission had the authority to punish someone who was no longer a member of the General Assembly. Three other commission members were absent, and one seat is vacant. Two of the alleged victims, Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner, said the commission’s decision appeared political.


Then The Post’s Fact Checker (who has previously debunked the 77 cents figure) catches the White House complaining about its own phony stats:

The White House discovered this week that calculations using average wages can yield unsatisfactory results. McClatchy newspapers did the math and reported that when the same standards that generated the 77-cent figure were applied to White House salaries, women overall at the White House make 91 cents for every dollar men make. White House spokesman Jay Carney protested that the review “looked at the aggregate of everyone on staff, and that includes from the most junior levels to the most senior.” But that’s exactly what the Census Department does.


Next, the folks at the National Republican Senatorial Committee are blasting out an e-mail telling the press that it started looking at the pay rates in offices of incumbent red-state Democratic senators. You guessed it:

It turns out President Obama isn’t the only hypocritical Democrat, in fact Senate Democrats have their own problems when it comes to equal pay. We pulled the official payroll records of various offices and calculated the average pay for men and women in each office for the most recent 6 month period available. Since some employees only worked a portion of the six month period, we calculated how much each person was paid per day in order to give an accurate representation. Here’s what we found:
  • Mark Udall pays women 85 cents for every dollar that a man makes.

  • Mary Landrieu pays women 88 cents for every dollar that a man makes.

  • Mark Begich pays women 82 cents for every dollar that a man makes.

  • Mark Warner pays women 75 cents for every dollar that a man makes.

  • Gary Peters pays women 67 cents for every dollar that a man makes.

That means on average, these five Democrats on the ballot in battleground states pay women in their office 79 cents for every dollar made by a male employee.

Yup, oops.

The big mistake the Dems made was using a statistic virtually everyone knew was phony. That allowed media and Republicans to have a field day. The White House looks pretty dishonest, which is just punishment for its transparent effort to enrage women.