Almost a week after he came under public and media scrutiny for making politically hazy comments about California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris, President Obama declared today "National Equal Pay Day" as a symbol of the salary disparities women continue to undergo in the workforce.
In a statement issued yesterday, Obama said, "Women — who make up nearly half of our nation's workforce — face a pay gap that means they earn 23% less on average than men do. That disparity is even greater for African-American women and Latinas. On National Equal Pay Day, we recognize this injustice by marking how far into the new year women have to work just to make what men did in the previous one."
The pay gap, that President Obama refers do, does indeed exist. According to the National Women’s Law Center, American women who work full-time year-round are still paid, on average, 77 cents to every dollar a male earns. However, the Daily Caller reported in January that the average salary that the President pays his female staffers, who made up approximately 50% of his staff in 2012, was thirteen percent less than the salaries he paid his male staffers.
Based on these statistics, Obama's gesture may come across as insincere — as an intended distraction from a heated national debate on guns and immigration and as a tool for gaining political points for an administration whose popularity has been sliding since its second inauguration. Equal Pay Day has, in fact, existed since 1996, because of the National Committee on Pay Equity, long before President Obama was in office. The actual date has fluctuated, over the years, among various Tuesdays in April.
Despite the ongoing tradition, President Obama has done little yet in his second term to alleviate the pains for women in the workforce. The Lilly Ledbetter Act, which President Obama signed into law four years ago, was one of his signature pieces of legislation from his first term that he threw around many times on the campaign trail. He and his campaign team continuously berated Mitt Romney and his staffers for not caring about equal pay for women. Of course, Romney did not aid his case when he infamously referred to his "binders full of women" in the second debate of the 2012 election.
The president is using a landmark presidential power in order to perpetuate Democrats as the protectors of women's rights, as he did in his second inaugural address, and to continue to slander Republicans for not paying attention to women’s issues in their "war on women."
Since he came into office in 2008, President Obama has effectively run his inner circle as a tried and true boy’s club. As administration officials have changed, the trend has remained the same: there are an exceedingly low number of women who seem to hold the role as one of the president’s most trusted advisors. He plays golf with the boys. He plays basketball with the boys. He, despite his own self-lauding for first term successes for equal pay, still has failed to give an explanation for why the boys have a fatter paycheck.