Republicans Block Paycheck Fairness Act; Debunking their Talking Points

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 15:15 EDT
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Now that the  Paycheck Fairness Act was defeated, 52-47, you can expect the Republicans to jump-start a meme that they started a few weeks ago. I wrote about it yesterday, but it was buried in another post, so I thought I’d do a quickie re-post that explains exactly why that meme is bullshit.

A few weeks ago, the Free Beacon published a story claiming that female Democratic Senators employed female staffers whom they paid less than their male staffers, and that such was a “betrayal” of Lilly Ledbetter:

A group of Democratic female senators on Wednesday declared war on the so-called “gender pay gap,” urging their colleagues to pass the aptly named Paycheck Fairness Act when Congress returns from recess next month. However, a substantial gender pay gap exists in their own offices, a Washington Free Beacon analysis of Senate salary data reveals.

Of the five senators who participated in Wednesday’s press conference—Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.)—three pay their female staff members significantly less than male staffers.

Murray, who has repeatedly accused Republicans of waging a “war a women,” is one of the worst offenders. Female members of Murray’s staff made about $21,000 less per year than male staffers in 2011, a difference of 35.2 percent.

That is well above the 23 percent gap that Democrats claim exists between male and female workers nationwide. The figure is based on a 2010 U.S. Census Bureau report, and is technically accurate. However, as CNN’s Lisa Sylvester has reported, when factors such as area of employment, hours of work, and time in the workplace are taken into account, the gap shrinks to about 5 percent.

A significant “gender gap” exists in Feinstein’s office, where women also made about $21,000 less than men in 2011, but the percentage difference—41 percent—was even higher than Murray’s.

Boxer’s female staffers made about $5,000 less, a difference of 7.3 percent.

The Free Beacon used publicly available salary data from the transparency website Legistorm to calculate the figures, and considered only current full-time staff members who were employed for the entirety of fiscal year 2011.

Of course, the Free Beacon made no mention that the Lilly Ledbetter Act was passed to ensure equal pay for equal work. As such a simple comparison of female and male staffers is entirely pointless. A comparison of female and male staffers in the same roles would be required before Republicans can cry, “Both sides do it!” and no such comparison has been forthcoming. But who cares! Everybody knows that Republicans don’t deal in facts and logic.

Oh and Mitt Romney still won’t take a stand on equal pay for women. What a leader!

ABL aka Angry Black Lady aka Imani Gandy is a recovering attorney with a burning love of fire and perfectly-constructed sentences. The “anger” portion of her moniker stems not from her displeasure at the hellscape that American politics has become, but rather is a symptom of the pituitary tumor which has been indefinitely detained in her brain since 2006. When she’s not pointing out that people are wrong on the Internet – or writing for Balloon Juice, The Grio, The Team Uterati Wiki Project, or RH Reality Check -- she likes long sits on the beach. Also, she thinks gravity is a real downer. You can follow her on Twitter at @AngryBlackLady.
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