How has the White House done in its pivot to the economy with its declaration of Equal Pay Day? This pivot has fared worse in the media than most of the Obama administration’s efforts, and that’s saying something. The lame defense of the White House’s own pay gap — under the same standards they use for everyone else — had CNN anchor John King and his panel laughing. King asked after hearing Jay Carney’s response, “Is that all you’ve got?”
If they expected to get a little protection from the media over the double standard they’re invoking for this limited executive action, Carney and company must be a little disappointed. CNN hit them later in the afternoon, too, offering this chyron during Obama’s big pay-equity speech:
Probably not the chyron President Obama was hoping for today pic.twitter.com/t4RMmQUx47
— Kris Anderson (@KAndersonDC) April 8, 2014
Their lack of preparation for the obvious pushback suggests that the White House never expected to be challenged on their claims at all. That actually started last night, as Ashe Schow noted for the Washington Examiner:
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.” …
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?
Yes, in fact it is — as part of the “war on women” political attack that Democrats thought worked so well for them in 2012. Politico reported yesterday that the Republican Party plans to put women out front in blunting that line of attack:
The party launched a program earlier this year to place more women in Republican campaigns.
And the three big national party committees have teamed up to respond to Democratic attacks. They even showcased women who work for the party at the top of their latest talking points. …
The strategy faces its first big test Tuesday, when a coalition of Republican committees will release its response to a Democratic push to make “fair pay” a campaign issue designed to appeal to women.
“Republicans have a good alternative to the Democrats’ deceptive war-on-women ploy, and we’re mobilizing to ensure Republican elected officials and candidates are armed,” said Republican National Committee national press secretary Kirsten Kukowski. “Democrats were successful in their war-on-women messaging last election because we didn’t fight back. We need to turn the table, tell voters the Democrats are being deceptive and bring our viewpoints to the table, which is exactly what we’re doing.”
It’s easier to point out the hypocrisy and demagoguery when the White House makes it this obvious.