- - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

President Obama and the Democrats have been peddling some whoppers lately about women in the workforce and Obamacare that are patently untrue or based on questionable, exaggerated data.

Mr. Obama and his party are betting they can get away with such falsehoods because the news media swallow them whole, regurgitating their charges as facts. Washington’s ultraliberal press corps rarely digs into the veracity of his claims.

The first is the White House’s election-year claims that average working women are paid a great deal less than men, often for the same amount of work.

Here’s what Mr. Obama said April 8 on equal pay for equal work: “Today, the average full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns in 2014, that’s an embarrassment. It is wrong.”


When Mr. Obama and the Democrats get into trouble, they usually reach for the weapon they’ve used so many times before; namely, demagoguery. That’s what they’re doing now to boost the women’s vote, as midterm election polls show they’re going to get another “shellacking” in the Senate races in November.

Is the president’s statement true? On Sunday, The Washington Post’s highly respected “Fact Checker,” Glenn Kessler, gave the statement Two Pinocchios out of four, but he said he was “tempted to go one step further to Three Pinocchios.”

Pinocchio is the 19th-century tale, made into a 1940 Disney film, of a little boy whose nose grows longer when he doesn’t tell the truth.

Mr. Kessler has been warning Mr. Obama about his wage-gap claim for quite awhile. In the 2012 presidential election, he looked into the math “and found it wanting.” He questioned Mr. Obama’s statement again when he used it in his 2013 and 2014 State of the Union addresses.

“He keeps using it, as do many other Democrats. So now it’s time for a reassessment,” Mr. Kessler writes.

What he found is that the claim is based on very simple math that does not account for a wide and complex variety of factors and differences “in the life choices of men and women” that “make it difficult to make easy comparisons.”

June O’Neill, the former Congressional Budget Office director, who has been a critic of the 77-cent statistic, says the gap is a result of various statistical factors. Among them: the average woman has less work experience than the average male; more of the weeks women work tend to be part time instead of full time; women tend to leave the workforce for periods of time to raise children; they often want and obtain flexible work hours with lower pay; and tend to choose lower-paying work.

Mr. Kessler points out that the U.S. Bureau of Labor’s data “show that women who do not get married have virtually no wage gap; they earn 96 cents for every dollar a man makes.”

Moreover, a 2011 study by the Federal Reserve of St. Louis found the wage gap is much lower when women are compared to men with similar characteristics.

Mr. Kessler agrees there appears to be some sort of wage gap, but adds, “it’s a bit rich for the president to repeatedly cite this statistic as an ‘embarrassment.’”

Notably, after an earlier online version of his fact-check column appeared, Mr. Obama dropped any mention of the 77- cent wage gap in his weekly radio address Saturday.

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