The 77% Lie — And Why Obama Keeps Telling It
By LARRY ELDER
Posted 06:35 PM ET
A quick way to kill debate is to accuse your political adversary of "lying."
Still, it's hard to figure out what else propels President Obama to falsely assert, yet again, that employers rip off female employees by paying them 23 cents less per dollar than men — for doing the same work.
In his last State of the Union address, Obama said:
"Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014 it's an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job."
See, the president begins the statement with a fact. That is, women on the whole make 77 cents on the dollar compared to the earnings of men, on the whole.
But here, as he has other times, Obama has added for the same work, or, as in this case, "equal pay for equal work." This makes the statement not only flat-out false, but insultingly so.
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski echoed Obama:
"Of course, women get paid 77 cents for every dollar men earn for the same exact job, so it's something that needs to be rectified, obviously."
(Now, according to the Daily Beast, at $2 million, Mika makes half of what Scarborough makes. Time to hire a new agent perhaps, but it does not excuse falsely telling women that they face a 23-cent ovary discount.)
Even the federal government — that Obama serves as chief executive — knows this is nonsense.
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Labor found that, after controlling for obvious education and job differences, the gender "wage gap" shrank to only 95%. The Labor Department report also noted women often make different choices than men:
"A greater percentage of women than men tend to work part-time. Part-time work tends to pay less than full-time work. A greater percentage of women than men tend to leave the labor force for childbirth, childcare and elder care.
"Some of the wage gap is explained by the percentage of women who were not in the labor force during previous years, the age of women, and the number of children in the home.
"Women, especially working mothers, tend to value 'family friendly' workplace policies more than men. Some of the wage gap is explained by industry and occupation, particularly, the percentage of women who work in the industry and occupation."
Even the 5% "gap" has a non-exploited explanation. The Labor report said:
"Research also suggests that differences not incorporated into the model due to data limitations may account for part of the remaining gap. ... much of the literature, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics Highlights of Women's Earnings, focus on wages rather than total compensation.
"Research indicates that women may value non-wage benefits more than men do, and as a result prefer to take a greater portion of their compensation in the form of health insurance and other fringe benefits."
What's more, three years ago USA Today found that young, childless, unmarried working women ages 22-30 out-earn men of the same age:
"Women ages 22 to 30 with no husband and no kids earn a median $27,000 a year, 8% more than comparable men in the top 366 metropolitan areas, according to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau data.
"The trend is especially apparent," said USA Today, "in cities where minority groups make up more than half the population. Among blacks and Hispanics, women are more than twice as likely as men to earn college degrees."
They found the largest discrepancy in Atlanta, where women out-earned men by 21%.
Again, why does Obama keep pushing this blatant untruth? Four possibilities: stupidity, ignorance, agenda/motive or he chooses to believe it.
Possibility No. 1: Say what you want about Obama, stupid he's not.
Possibility No. 2: Obama lacks access to and understanding of the information? The president of the United States does not want for research, data or information. He — and someday she — has plenty of information.
Possibility No. 3: The falsehood advances Obama's agenda of combating "inequality" while attacking the GOP for its "war on women." This helps to maintain the so-called voter "gender gap" with single female voters. Even Obama's Labor Department noted on the first page of its 93-page report:
"The (77-cent) wage gap continues to be used in misleading ways to advance public policy agendas without fully explaining the reasons behind the gap."
Again, first page.
Possibility No. 4: Leftists such as Obama make a conscious decision to ignore the evidence and choose an outcome consistent with their beliefs.
This is the kind of "cherry-picking" they once accused the anti-intellectual George W. Bush of doing when he made the case for the Iraq War. Some people, goes the saying, believe what they see, and others see what they believe.
In Obama's case, we are left with possibilities three and four. One is Machiavellian. The other is a willful disregard of truth. Both are offensive and harmful to the nation.