White House Dossier has a great piece satirizing the Obama administration’s current behavior headlined “Leading by Confusion.” A nugget:
“Our armed forces drill every day on tactics for combating viruses,” Obama said. “Viruses, Islamist terrorists – it doesn’t matter, they’re all little jerks. In fact, I’ve decided to declare war on Ebola and send infectious disease experts to fight ISIS.”
I laughed out loud when I got to the end:
“Frankly, nobody here knows what we’re doing,” the senior administration official said. “We’re kind of winging it, trying everything to see what works. I mean, we don’t even know if you can get Ebola on a bus. We just know that one kills by attacking the organs and the other kills by cutting off the head. But we’re quite certain about this: Women are paid just 77 cents on the dollar compared to a man. And that’s got to stop.”
Yep, in troubled times, Democrats inevitably fall back on that old chestnut: the wage gap. I imagine Democratic party elders huddling together against the electoral chill and murmuring, “At least, we’ll always have the wage gap.”
Mona Charen addresses the phenomenon of the durability of the wage gap in a column. The 77 cents wage gap is built on false premises. Never mind. Mona notes that, when everything else goes south for the Democrats, they still have the wage gap:
Pew survey found that Republicans score better than Democrats on most of the issues that voters care a lot about — specifically the economy, jobs, the way the federal government works, ISIS, and the federal budget deficit. Democrats scored better on matters that voters don’t find all that compelling, like climate change, abortion, and access to contraception.
The one outlier on the Pew survey was “equal pay for women.” That issue is the only one that voters both care about and think Democrats are better at handling.
Mona calls this durability of the 77 cents wage gap a “triumph of spin — a solution in search of a problem.” Mona observes that there may be a few—but a very few—women who suffer from pay discrimination because of gender. But there are laws on the books that provide ample remedy—and these laws have been on the books for years.
The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act includes penalties for gender pay discrimination, and yet Democrats are rallying their base with claims of gender discrimination in pay. The cornerstone of this campaign is the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act. Mona quotes a recent piece on “The Essential Dishonesty of the Paycheck Fairness Act” in the Wall Street Journal, the subject of an Inkwell blog.
Nevertheless, the spin is triumphant—women think that we are by and large victims of gender pay discrimination, even though, on reflection, most admit they have not seen this first-hand:
Well, all these laws may be on the books, yet women still earn less than men, right? Women certainly appear to believe so. Sixty percent of Millennial women, for example, told Pew that “men generally earn more for doing the same work,” and 75 percent of women believe that society must continue to “make the changes needed to bring about equality in the workplace.”
Yet when respondents were asked about the situation in their own workplaces, 75 percent of women said the sexes were paid equally for the same work. Only one in ten thought women were paid less.
As noted above, remedies for wage discrimination are abundant in the law. The solutions for other problems highlighted by the Pew survey of Millennials are not so apparent. Young women continue to outperform young men in education, labor-force participation, and yes, wages. A single, childless woman in her 20s now out-earns her male counterparts, Forbes reports. While 45 percent of women between 18 and 24 are enrolled in college, only 38 percent of young men are. Women’s wages have been trending up since 1980, while men’s have been sliding down. That’s for the men who are still working. Men’s labor-force participation has declined steadily over the past several decades, and it now lags behind women.
The real problem, as Mona indicates, is that men are being left behind. But Democrats can’t mobilize behind that because it goes against their “war on women” canard (which isn’t playing as well now as it once did).