Jim Clark: A look at the Paycheck Fairness Act
April 21, 2014
In last week's column I speculated for the 2014 election Democrats would shy away from the Obamacare issue like it was a skunk at a picnic.
I opined they might be tempted to pad their "income equality" issue by borrowing a guaranteed annual income proposal now set for a vote in Switzerland. If passed, every Swiss citizen will be entitled to $33,000 per year whether or not he or she works.
Alas, it was not to be. Obama and his crew have instead decided to bolster their "Republican War on Women" theme by proposing the "Paycheck Fairness Act." This measure would give employees the right to sue employers for any pay discrepancy between workers.
Also, in a sop to the Democratic Party's biggest source of campaign donations, trial lawyers, the bill would make it easier to bring class actions. In short, it would cripple small businesses.
Last week, the Reno Gazette-Journal ran an editorial chiding Democrats for cynically proposing a law that hasn't got the support in the Senate to even get a floor vote much less even a prayer in the House.
"Democrats knew the score … on the legislation, but the point wasn't so much to get a bill passed as to label Republicans as hostile to women as part of a broader effort to get female voters to the polls," the editorial said.
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Writing in Political Commentary Columnist Michael Barone said the Obama Administration has engaged University of Michigan economist and Council of Economic Advisors member Betsey Stevenson to defend the use of a misleading statistic in support of the legislation, namely the claim that for every dollar men earn women earn 77 cents.
Stevenson herself admits that the figure is misleading because so many factors contribute to what men and women earn.
Nonetheless, the Democratic National Committee has its political ad makers cutting 30 second spots citing that figure and accusing Republicans of waging war on women.
In a "turnabout's fair play" move, press corps members peppered White House Press Secretary Jay Carney with questions about a study released in January, which shows that female White House staffers make on average 88 cents for every dollar male staffers earn.
Carney denounced the statistic as "misleading" because it lumps all salaries, including those at the lowest levels, where women outnumber men. Do tell!
In fact the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963 outlawing sex discrimination by employers and over the years has done a pretty good job of attaining its purpose.
The 77-cent figure does not take into account differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure or hours worked.
According to a 2012 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics men tend to work longer hours than women, they tend to take riskier jobs with premium pay and female college graduates tend to specialize in lower paid fields than male college graduates.
Women who work 40-hour weeks earn 88 percent of what similarly employed men do, and single women who never married earn 96 percent of what men do.
Translation: Women with kids balance their family obligations with work obligations. There's no crime in that.
Finally, a recent poll conducted by YouGov and published by Huffington Post show that the vast majority (75 percent) of respondents believe that male/female pay discrepancy is either because men and women are working different jobs or because women are making different choices about balancing family and work obligations. Only a smattering thought women had fewer opportunities.
So when those Democratic political ads start running this fall you can flip channels to PBS and see how the Swiss are doing with their guaranteed annual incomes. I'll bet the Democrats will wish they did.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates, and has served on the Washoe County and Nevada state GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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