04.08.2014 1

Obama’s gender inequality demagoguery

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By Robert Romano

Barack Obama does not have the votes to pass the so-called Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that professes to address the 23-cent income gap between men and women.

So, he is just going to issue an executive order and act as if the legislation has passed — as it relates to federal contractors.

Never mind that it is already illegal for an employer to discriminate in pay based on gender. The Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963.

At his 2014 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.”

The 23-cent pay gap finding Obama cited originated in an August 2008 Census report. Nobody disputes its accuracy.

But, reports the American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Christina Hoff Sommers, the problem with the statistic is that it is “simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time.”

Sommers explained, “It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week. When all these relevant factors are taken into consideration, the wage gap narrows to about five cents. And no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers.”

In the process, Census does not consider the fact that men are more likely to work in higher-paid professions such as engineering, while women are more likely to work in lower-paid professions like early childhood educators and social workers, Sommers notes.

“Much of the wage gap can be explained away by simply taking account of college majors,” she wrote.

A similar analysis likely would debunk the 12-cent pay gap between male and female staffers at the White House. But if Obama is really concerned about pay inequality based on a superficial reading of data, perhaps he should start in his own building.

Instead, Obama is issuing an executive order to implement a law Congress has not passed to address what may be a non-problem in a manner that likely will not even solve it.

Obama pulled a similar stunt when he raised the minimum wage that federal contractors can pay out to $10.10. Again, lacking legislative support for his agenda, he just issued an executive order, citing the legal power in federal law to negotiate “compensation which the agency head determines is fair and reasonable to the Federal Government.”

Never mind that is supposed to keep the costs of a contract down, not have the opposite impact of making them more expensive by raising the amount taxpayers must pay for a federal contract. Or that, most employees working for federal contractors already make more than the current minimum wage.

Now he plans on using the same dubious legal authority to, among other things, prohibit “federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay with each other,” according to an Associated Press report.

As if there was an accusation that federal contractors were retaliating against employees for trading notes on income levels. That aside, all the provision might do is to create yet another legal tract for lawyers to take businesses to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs for a shakedown.

But most importantly, what it will not do is achieve any appreciable reduction in the overall income gap, since that is apparently based on the decisions men and women tend to make in choosing a profession and respective fields of study.

Therefore, Obama’s executive order is little more than demagoguery, and then only just for show. In the process, he is helping to perpetuate a perception of gender inequality that may no longer even be relevant in today’s society.

Robert Romano is senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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