Saturday, September 20, 2008

Obama's Lies: Part One of ?

As I mentioned yesterday, I am writing a series of posts about Barack Obama’s dizzying level of dishonesty. This one is about a new advertisement in which he claims that a John McCain presidency would be bad for women because McCain does not care about the wage gap between men and women. It begins by trumpeting that women make only 77 percent of what men make, plastering the number 77 on your TV screen in giant font.

But you always have to parse the words of politicians, so it is important to notice what they do not say – and in a technical sense, this ad never states that women make 77 percent for doing the same jobs as men. Because it would be so easy to disprove that claim, Obama avoids the “equal work” language at this point in the ad, though it is clear he intends for women to assume a 77-to-100 gap exists for equal work.

If you don’t think that is his intent, you should consider that later on the ad does explicitly (and falsely) state that McCain is against legislation requiring “equal pay for equal work” – it’s just that these words appear far enough away that, by diagramming sentences, Obama can truthfully claim he never said “women are paid 77 cents for every dollar of equal work performed by a man.”

Desperate for evidence that McCain is against equal pay legislation, the ad vaguely cites his opposition to the Fair Pay Restoration Act (FPRA) but makes sure not to inform viewers that the FPRA does not mean what it sounds like it means. Equal pay for equal work is already required by law, and has been for 45 years. All the FPRA would do is change the length of time employees have to sue their employers.

When it comes to figuring out what Obama and McCain personally think about women’s compensation, the best possible way of doing so is available to us: We can simply look up what they pay their own employees. When we do so, we learn that Obama pays women far less than he pays men, and perhaps more telling, we also learn that he pays women far less than McCain pays women.

Specifically, the numbers show the following: 1) on average, Obama pays women 17 percent less than men, while McCain pays women 4 percent more than men; 2) on average, Obama pays women 19 percent less than McCain pays women; 3) just one of Obama’s five highest-paid staffers is a woman, compared to three of McCain’s top five; and 4) just seven of Obama’s twenty highest-paid staffers are women, compared to thirteen of McCain’s top twenty.

If you learned these facts about two men, without knowing their names or hearing any rhetoric about them, which one would you think places more emphasis on women’s income and women’s opportunities?

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