Democrats made a big show Tuesday of promoting equal pay for women, unfazed by data showing that both President Obama and leading presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton haven’t walked the walk on pay equity.
Mr. Obama declared Tuesday to be National Equal Pay Day, a symbolic measure of how far along the yearly calendar a woman needs to work to earn as much as her male counterpart did the year before.
“On average, full-time working women earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, and women of color face an even greater disparity,” Mr. Obama said in a proclamation. “This wage gap puts women at a career-long disadvantage, and it harms families, communities and our entire economy.”
But it’s well documented that his White House has a history of paying female staffers less than men on average. An analysis of White House salaries last July showed that there was still a 13 percent pay gap between male and female staffers.
Mrs. Clinton, under pressure from the left wing of the Democratic Party to speak out against income inequality, took aim Tuesday at the excessive pay of some corporate executives instead of focusing on gender inequity. The Republican PAC America Rising noted that the Clintons’ income of $16.7 million in 2012 was 321 times that of the average family in the U.S.
However, an analysis by the Washington Free Beacon showed that during her time in the U.S. Senate, Mrs. Clinton paid women in her office 72 cents for each dollar paid to men. The report found the median annual salary for female staffers was $15,708.38 less than the median salary for men between 2002 and 2008, a gender gap of 28 percent.
Mrs. Clinton’s supporters say she was a consistent advocate for equal-pay legislation in the Senate, and was an original sponsor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, signed by President Obama in 2009 to expand workers’ rights to take pay discrimination cases to court.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Tuesday that Democrats “are proud to fight for equal pay every single day.”
In 2009 women at the White House were paid on average $72,700, while male staffers were paid $82,000. By 2014 women staffers earned $78,400, compared to the average male salaries of $88,600.
White House aides have said that men and women staffers who hold the same job description are paid the same, but there are more men in higher-paying jobs.
The DNC attacked GOP presidential candidates Tuesday on their pay-equity policies, blasting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and others for either downplaying the importance of the issue or enacting policies that it said were unfavorable to female workers.
In Congress, Democrats are offering the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would allow employees to share information about their pay and file lawsuits against an employer.
On the Republican side, a coalition of four senators, led by Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, has offered an amendment to the bill that would prohibit retaliation against employees for discussing salaries and provide grants to states to create industry-led partnerships to address disparities of opportunity.