Two women reporters shredded President Barack Obama’s campaign-trail claim that greedy executives pay women only 77 cents for every dollar paid to men.
The message-meltdown came shortly after media outlets showed that women in the White House are paid 83 cents for every dollar paid to men.
That’s bad for the White House, which wants to spur high female turnout in November by converting their economic worries into hatred of the GOP.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest ruined the presidential narrative by repeating the GOP’s explanations for pay disparities among men and women.
“There are a lot of ways to evaluate pay equity, right?” said Earnest, as he tried to explain why the White House pays women less, on average, than men.
“There are a variety of metrics that can be consulted to evaluate whether or not equal work leads to equal pay,” he said, echoing employers across the fruit plain.
“It depends on how you want to calculate that,” he said, channeling press statements from the Chamber of Commerce
Pressed for an answer, he finally offered one way to calculate whether companies are treating women fairly, even when a company may have hired many lower-skilled women.
One way to calculate the gap is to determine what pay is given to people who share the same job titles, Earnest stated. “That is certainly the case at the White House… [so] there is equal pay for equal work at the White House.”
But many companies provide roughly equal pay for people who share the same titles — yet end up paying women less overall, because more women cluster in part-time jobs.
In speeches to supporters and donors, Obama routinely obscures that reality as he blames employers for women’s economic problems in the Obama economy.
“Part of our focus here is how do we make sure that families in general, but women in particular, are able to achieve and succeed… and that means equal pay for equal work,” Obama said June 18.
“There’s not an issue out there in which we do not enjoy majority support… [including] equal pay for equal work,” he said May 22.
“Republicans in Congress have blocked or voted down every serious idea to create jobs and strengthen the middle class [and] they’ve said… ‘no’ to equal pay for equal work,” he said in his May 2 weekly address.
The gap between his boss’ statements and his payroll data left Earnest little choice but to duck, dive, dodge and duck.
“If you look at the metrics, the White House performs significantly better than the private sector,” he said, without noting that the White House has a very narrow range of job tasks compared to most companies that have an owner, middle managers and a workforce of part-time, short-term employees.
The White House “is doing appreciably better than the country is doing more broadly, but we still have more work to do at the White House,” Earnest said.
Late in his answer, he retreated into incoherence, saying “this is a difficult problem to address… the question is are we going to try to solve it?”
But if Obama can’t solve the problem among his own staff, even though it is has been a signature issue for six years, why does anyone think the problem is solvable, asked one reporter.
“Well, I think this is a difficult policy challenge because there is a variety of reasons why this gender gap exists,” Earnest evaded. “There are a variety of influences… so this is s difficult problem… the question is are we going to try to solve it.”
“I wouldn’t hold up the White House as the perfect example here,” he said, before changing the subject away from Obama’s campaign-trail complaints.
“We are an example of an organization that is making an effort and enjoying some success in making sure there are [some] women who get equal pay for equal work, and [there are] women who have an opportunity to advance their careers here at the White House,” he said.
“Our record, when judged by that standard, holds up very, very well,” Earnest stated.