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Monday, Jun 18, 2018
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Paycheck ‘fairness’ and the usefully ill-informed

As political games go, the one recently played on GOP congressional candidate David Jolly by the lefty blog ThinkProgress is one of the oldest in the books. In the trick, you get presumed allies of a candidate to disagree with one of your target’s high-profile positions. But that’s easy enough to do when you misrepresent the facts.

In this case, ThinkProgress sent a reporter to a meeting of the Bellair Women’s Republican Club Friday to ask what its membership thought of Lobby having lobbied against the Paycheck Fairness Act, a twice-failed piece of legislation supporters say will ensure gender blindness when it comes to workforce wages.

“Before seeking political office, Jolly, who is running in next Tuesday’s special election to fill the late-Rep. C.W. ‘Bill’ Young’s seat in Florida’s 13th congressional district, was employed for years as a lobbyist in Washington D.C. Though he worked on a number of controversial issues, one of them that has caused his campaign the most consternation was his lobbying against the Paycheck Fairness Act, federal legislation designed to help close the pay gap between male and female workers. …

“ ‘If you and I were doing the exact same job, we should both get the same salary,’ Bobbie Bernstein, who has lived in Pinellas County since 1961, said. Sue Salmeri, a lifelong Republican, agreed: ‘I think that women have come a long way, but they’ve got work to do. And they should certainly demand equal pay for equal work.’

“Ann Castro, an asthana yoga instructor who had worked at the Republican National Committee when she was younger, said equal pay hadn’t been an issue for her personally, ‘but I know for my girlfriends it has been a problem.’ She said it bothered her that women make less than men for the same jobs. ‘I think there should be equal pay for equal work. I mean, obviously.’ ”

ThinkProgress’ lever was the finding by the Census Bureau that in 2012 women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. The statistic has been endlessly debunked. Any number of peer-reviewed studies have found that, when controlled for experience, duties, time in the job and hours worked, the difference in pay shrinks to about five percent.

Otherwise, the 23-point gap largely results from the decisions women make. As the Center for American Progress notes:

“Among men and women employed full time, 60 percent of the wage gap can be attributed to known factors such as work experience at 10 percent, union status at 4 percent, and the aforementioned choice of occupation at 27 percent, among other measureable differences. A woman’s work experience is abbreviated if she needs to take maternity leave or take time off from a job to care for a child, which she is more likely to do than her male counterpart. Another quarter of the wage gap is attributable to the differences in wages paid by industries that employ mostly men or mostly women. These include blue-collar industries such as mining, manufacturing, and construction, which generally employ men, and service-sector or clerical jobs, which generally pay less and employ more women.”

In short, the PFA is designed to fix a problem that does not exist, while opening the door to endless litigation against companies that fail to constantly rebalance their payrolls to meet the dictates of a new, and unnecessary, federal mandate.

But as long as the 77-percent figure can be slung around stripped of context, it makes a handy political bludgeon, as ably demonstrated by ThinkProgress’ stampede of the thinly informed Republican women of Bellair.