POLITICS: White House

White House: The '77 cents' wage gap figure isn't accurate, but they'll use it anyway

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,White House,Barack Obama,Ashe Schow,War on Women,Gender Issues

A White House adviser had to walk back the oft-repeated myth that women make 77 cents on the dollar that men make after being questioned about the figure during a conference call Monday.

While detailing executive actions President Obama plans to take Tuesday regarding equal pay for women, Betsey Stevenson, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said very defiantly that despite women contributing 44 percent of their household incomes, they continue to make less than men. Obama has declared Tuesday "Equal Pay Day" to highlight his administration's focus on that issue.

“They’re stuck at 77 cents on the dollar, and that gender wage gap is seen very persistently across the income distribution, within occupations, across occupations, and we see it when men and women are working side by side doing identical work.”

That sounds awfully specific. Stevenson certainly sounds like she’s saying men and women doing the exact same job are earning very different pay.

Myth debunked. Women, we are oppressed. I take back everything I wrote about the 77-cent claim being a myth.

Except, as soon as Stevenson was actually questioned about the statistic by McClatchy reporter Lindsay Wise, the White House adviser crumbled, admitting her earlier comments were inaccurate.

“If I said 77 cents was equal pay for equal work, then I completely misspoke,” Stevenson said. “So let me just apologize and say that I certainly wouldn’t have meant to say that.”

Oh, I’m sorry, I guess when Stevenson said “we see it when men and women are working side by side doing identical work” — that was an accident?

“Seventy-seven cents captures the annual earnings of full-time, full-year women divided by the annual earnings of full-time, full-year men,” Stevenson clarified. “There are a lot of things that go into that 77-cents figure, there are a lot of things that contribute and no one’s trying to say that it’s all about discrimination, but I don’t think there’s a better figure.”

No one’s trying to blame discrimination? Isn’t that what the entire Paycheck Fairness Act and Equal Pay Day are based on?

And while we're at it, let's not forget that the White House pays women less than men. But that's okay, said White House press secretary Jay Carney, because they still pay "better than the national average."

Apparently a little discrimination is OK in Obama's White House.

Don’t expect Obama to admit any of this as he travels around the country continuing to claim that women don’t earn as much as men.

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