“In what new ways,” an “undecided voter” asked the presidential candidates during the second debate, “do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?”
Mitt Romney said that, as governor, he questioned why there were no female applicants for his administration. Women’s groups, he said, then brought him “binders full” of qualified women. To this, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, “Mitt Romney, on a point-blank question the other night in the debate, refused to answer whether he believes in equal pay for equal work. He refers to women as binders and resumes. You know, a callous sort of brush-off.”
Neither Obama, Romney nor the moderator questioned the premise – that “inequalities in the workplace” result in women making “only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn.” But do women, as Obama has claimed, make 72 cents on the dollar – for doing the same work as a male counterpart? Are women being exploited by sexist employers who refuse to pay women equal pay for equal work?
Way back in 1995, the decidedly non-right-wing Los Angeles Times ran a piece titled, “Women’s Choices, Not Bias, Blamed for Lower Earnings.” A study by the Pacific Research Institute found that “women lag behind men because they move in and out of the workforce to care for children, and tend to choose lower-paying careers than men,” and that “wage disparity narrows as factors distinguishing the sexes are removed. The gap falls to 2 percent between childless men and women ages 27 through 33.”
The Times wrote that U.S. Labor Department economist Tom Nardone agreed that “the wage gap appears to shrink when differences in age, education, marriage, tenure and field of work are excluded.”
If exploitation means paying a woman less money than a male – irrespective of differences in experience, duties and responsibilities – Obama is guilty of serial sexism and exploitation.
During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama’s 28 non-intern male Senate staffers, according to a report from the secretary of the Senate, averaged an annual salary of $54,397 from Oct. 1, 2007, to March 31, 2008. His 30 female non-intern employees averaged $45,152, or 83 cents on the dollar compared to the men. Columnist Deroy Murdock pointed out that of Obama’s five top-paid advisers, only one was a woman. Of Obama’s top-paid 20, 13 were men; only seven were women.
Obama’s 2008 Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, whom Obama accused of being against “equal pay for equal work,” paid his female staffers more than he paid his male staffers. McCain’s 17 male Senate staffers averaged $53,936, while his 25 females averaged $55,878 – or $1.04 compared to the men’s one dollar.
What about the White House? Has Obama, as president, now seen the error of his ways and repented? The 2011 annual report on White House staff shows that female White House employees’ median annual salary is $60,000 – or 18 percent less than male employees’ $71,000 salary. And of Obama’s top White House personnel, nearly all are men. Apparently, no one brought Obama binders full of qualified women.
For the book “Confidence Men,” about key players on Wall Street and in the Obama administration, author Ron Suskind was given official access to the White House. White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, Suskind wrote, complained about sexism, “frat house antics” and a “hostile workplace” in the White House.
Dunn later denied calling the White House a “hostile workplace.” But Suskind taped their interview and allowed a Washington Post reporter to review it. Suskind, it turns out, quoted Dunn verbatim. The tapes show that Dunn even complained to one of Obama’s top advisers, Valerie Jarrett: “I remember once I told Valerie that, I said if it weren’t for the president, this place would be in court for a hostile workplace. Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.”
Holy Lilly Ledbetter!
A Washington Post article initially speculated that the allegations of sexism could pose a real political problem for Obama: “The acknowledgement Monday by White House officials of discontent among high-level female staffers in the early days came even as Obama aides tried to paint the Suskind book as inaccurate. The book was reported with cooperation from the White House (emphasis added), but now it could backfire, raising questions about Obama’s management style in the early stages of his administration.”
Did the major media care? Did they jump on the hypocrisy of an “equal pay” administration that pays its male and female staffers unequally? Did they pursue the astonishing story of a top female Obama staffer calling the White House a “hostile workplace to women”?
The book’s allegations of sexism – made by the White House communications director – mattered little to the pro-Obama media. Imagine the size of the chainsaw the media would have taken to a Republican president whose female communications director complained about a “hostile workplace to women.”
Can you say “sexist in chief”?