Barack Obama has campaigned on the issue of “equal pay”, casting John McCain as a villain for not supporting federal legislation widening grounds and timing for pay-discrimination lawsuits. Yet Obama may have a fair-pay issue of his own. According to Fred Lucas at Cybercast News Service, women on his staff made $6,000 less than men on average. McCain, on the other hand, has more women in key positions — and the women on his staff average slightly higher salaries than the men:
On average, women working in Obama’s Senate office were paid at least $6,000 below the average man working for the Illinois senator. That’s according to data calculated from the Report of the Secretary of the Senate, which covered the six-month period ending Sept. 30, 2007. Of the five people in Obama’s Senate office who were paid $100,000 or more on an annual basis, only one — Obama’s administrative manager — was a woman.
The average pay for the 33 men on Obama’s staff (who earned more than $23,000, the lowest annual salary paid for non-intern employees) was $59,207. The average pay for the 31 women on Obama’s staff who earned more than $23,000 per year was $48,729.91. (The average pay for all 36 male employees on Obama’s staff was $55,962; and the average pay for all 31 female employees was $48,729. The report indicated that Obama had only one paid intern during the period, who was a male.)
McCain, an Arizona senator, employed a total of 69 people during the reporting period ending in the fall of 2007, but 23 of them were interns. Of his non-intern employees, 30 were women and 16 were men. After excluding interns, the average pay for the 30 women on McCain’s staff was $59,104.51. The 16 non-intern males in McCain’s office, by comparison, were paid an average of $56,628.83.
First, one has to ask why Obama has 64 non-intern staffers while McCain has 46. Obama doesn’t chair any committees, and the subcommittee he chairs has not exactly had a prodigious output. The difference in salaries comes to almost a million dollars a year. What exactly is the value that taxpayers have received for this extra assistance? Obama has a negligible legislative record for his three years in the Senate, and has spent most of the last two years running for President, as has McCain, who managed to get by with much less.
If CNS has its figures correct, then Obama has some explaining to do. CNS has not always been terribly reliable, but in this instance, it’s not difficult to get the correct figures on staffers and salary; they’re matters of public record. CNS has managed to do what other media outlets have overlooked, which is to match Obama’s rhetoric with his hiring record.
Obama wants to have women get paid on an equal basis as men, which makes sense to me. He should start with himself rather than siccing the federal government on the private sector. As with change, clean politics, and leadership, Obama talks the talk while McCain walks the walk.