Commentary Magazine


You Have To Hire Them First

Barack Obama is out with a new ad implying that John McCain doesn’t favor equal pay for women. As Linda has pointed out, the Equal Pay Act has been on the books for decades. (The actual issue here is whether Congress should come up with a legislative fix to a Supreme Court case–Ledbetter v. Goodyear –holding that the statute of limitations for claims under the statute doesn’t continue to run with each paycheck the plaintiff receives.)

The McCain camp snaps back with a reminder that Barack Obama seems delinquent in the equal pay department when it comes to his own Senate office. But really that’s not the biggest issue for Obama. This is:

Obama salary offer to female VP nominee: $0

McCain salary offer to female VP nominee: $208,100

That, you see, is the equal pay issue in a microcosm. Unless you are willing to hire women for high positions with juicy salaries — even ones with unconventional résumés (maybe even ones with lots of kids they occasionally bring to the office)  — you’re going to have a difficult time fixing that “seventy-seven cents on the dollar” problem.

So if Obama wants to talk about the merits of  open-ended statutes of limitations and the bonanza for trial lawyers, fine. But if he wants to argue about who “doesn’t get” the importance of equal opportunity for women he picked a fight in the wrong race — and the wrong running mate.

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