What’s real and imagined about “equal pay day?
Women make less than men, even at the White House: Happy Equal Pay Day! Well, not happy, really. Today is the day in the year when American women’s pay from last year catches up to that of American men. Women, according to the data, make about 77 cents for every dollar a man does. We’re 23% into 2014.
Whether or not there is an actual pay gap and how large it is remain the subject of some debate. The census data that shows women make 77 cents for every dollar men make is calculated by adding all the wages of women and dividing the total by all the wages of men. But that doesn’t take into account a lot of factors, like women taking time off work to have children or choosing different career paths.
Professional fact checkers at Factcheck.org (“exaggeration”), Politifact (“Mostly False”) and The Washington Post (“one Pinocchio”) have all found problems with the claim. The American Association of University Women released a report that concluded the pay gap was closer to 7% than 23%.
For the past several elections, Democrats have adopted the equal pay issue and made the equality of paychecks a huge priority.
But the issue of equal pay plagues President Obama’s White House. An analysis by the conservative American Enterprise Institute found that women staffers made about 88 cents on the dollar, compared with male staffers.
A question on that discrepancy caught White House press secretary Jay Carney off guard Monday.
"What I can tell you is that we have, as an institution here, have aggressively addressed this challenge, and obviously, though, at the 88 cents that you cite, that is not a hundred, but it is better than the national average," he said. "And when it comes to the bottom line that women who do the same work as men have to be paid the same, there is no question that that is happening here at the White House at every level."
Two deputy chiefs of staff in the White House - one male and one female - Carney said, make the same salary.
But Obama has taken on this issue since the first day of his presidency, when the first bill he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which addressed what most Democrats and quite a few Republicans viewed as a ridiculous Supreme Court decision. Justices threw out Ledbetter’s sexual discrimination lawsuit against Goodyear because she hadn’t filed it soon enough after she was paid less than her male counterparts. Forget the fact that she didn’t know at the time she was being paid less.
That bill he signed back in 2009 gave women more time to sue for pay discrimination.
Today, he’ll do more. He’ll sign executive orders that encourage federal contractors to make pay information more transparent, so women and minorities will know if they are being treated equally.
A companion piece of legislation, authored by the dean of women senators, Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, proposed a bill that would apply that principle throughout the country, but it faces an uncertain future in the U.S. Congress. Regardless, senators are likely to vote on her proposal in the coming days.
Senate passes jobless aid extension; House not likely to follow: Democrats are making issues of fair pay a key part of their 2014 midterm election platform. On Monday, senators passed a bill that would restore expired unemployment benefits to the long-term jobless. That bill also faces an uncertain future in the House, where fiscal conservatives want to offset spending with cuts elsewhere in the budget. Also facing an uncertain fate is the Democrats’ plan to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Meanwhile, more progress is being made on that front at the state level. Maryland became the latest state to raise its minimum wage to $10.10 on Monday.
Harry Reid’s Koch brothers obsession: That jobless vote gave Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yet another chance to vilify Republicans and also target Charles and David Koch, the oil magnate billionaires who have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into conservative causes.
“Americans need a fair shot at getting back on their feet and finding work, but Koch-backed groups are actively opposing the extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed,” said Reid, who called for Republicans that “bear the logo of the Koch brothers” to announce their affiliation on the floor of the Senate.
Then his office tweeted out their imagining of bearing a Koch logo:
Reid’s focus on the philanthropists and political money men has been something of a conversation topic in Washington. There’s no evidence that Reid is anything but a shrewd politician, but there are plenty of questions about whether his Koch brothers tactic is going to be a winner and whether voters will respond to the specter of a few big-moneyed oil barons most of them haven’t heard of.
There’s a new conservative meme that left-leaning publications are pointing out: Conservatives have been implying Harry Reid has Alzheimer’s or hasn’t been taking his medication. Why? The Senate majority leader has had a myopic focus on the Koch brothers. A number of publications have noticed the trend.
Senate blocks Iran hostage-taker U.N. ambassador, CNN’s Ted Barrett reports: The Senate passed rare bipartisan legislation Monday night to give the administration more leeway to prevent terrorists from representing countries at the United Nations.
The legislation, which passed unanimously, targets Hamid Aboutalebi, who may be Iran’s pick to the world body. Senators accuse him of being involved in the taking of American hostages in Tehran in 1979. “He is a known terrorist. He participated in holding Americans hostage for 344 days,” the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Ted. Cruz, R-Texas, said in an interview Monday with Jake Tapper on CNN. The quick passage of the legislation was a political victory for Cruz, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, who has been criticized for having a thin legislative record.
Cruz says GOP needs anti-establishment candidate, CNN’s Jake Tapper and Sherisse Pham report: Speaking on what he views is the path to victory for Republicans, Cruz said, "I don't think Washington elites are going to be very effective picking the nominee."
"I think it's going to be, quite rightly, a decision for the grassroots to make," Cruz said in an interview on CNN on Tuesday. That would certainly benefit the Texas Republican, who came to the U.S. Senate on a wave of tea party support. Cruz is considered a potential 2016 presidential candidate, but he probably would not be establishment Republicans' first pick.
Bush and Clinton in NCAA Skybox One: Oh, to have been a peanut shell on the floor of that luxury box. Neither one had a dog in the fight, but former President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton sat next to each other during the NCAA championship game in Texas on Monday night. They were hosted by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Both men will also appear this week at the LBJ presidential library for events surrounding the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.