Politics & Policy

Biden Bucks His Equity Talk

For every dollar that he paid his average male staffer, his female equivalent made only 73 cents.

Two weeks ago, I explored the gap between Barack Obama’s rhetoric on pay equity and the reality of how he pays women in his Senate office. While Obama preaches equal pay for equal work, he does not practice it on Capitol Hill.

Well, it turns out that his running mate, Joe Biden, is even worse.

#ad#Based on calculations using Senate pay records posted by LegiStorm.com, a political transparency organization, between October 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008, Obama’s 28 male staffers divided among themselves total payroll expenditures of $1,523,120. Thus, Obama’s average male employee earned $54,397 on an annualized basis.

Obama’s 30 female employees split $1,354,580 among themselves, or $45,152, on average.

Among Obama’s top five highest-paid — and likely most senior — employees, one was female. Among his top 20, seven were women.

All told, for every dollar that Obama paid his average male staffer, his female counterpart made just 83 cents.

As for Biden, his 14 male staffers split a total payroll outlay of $1,077,128.40. So, Biden’s average male employee earned $76,937.74 per annum.

Biden’s 27 female employees divided $1,517,874.47, or $56,217.57, on average.

Among Biden’s top five highest-paid aides, one was a woman. Among the top 20, 11 were women.

All told, for every dollar that Biden paid his average male staffer, his female equivalent made only 73 cents.

This number is significant. Not only does Biden discount women by more than a quarter per dollar paid to men, on average. Biden collides into the standard by which his own campaign berates major companies for alleged pay discrimination.

Beneath the website banner “Fighting for Pay Equity,” Obama-Biden’s women’s issues page complains that, “Despite decades of progress, women still make only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. A recent study estimates it will take another 47 years for women to close the wage gap with men at Fortune 500 corporate offices.”

Biden actually pays his average female employees four cents less than the level that triggers outrage on his own campaign’s website!

Nevertheless, Obama and Biden have the gall to go after McCain on this topic. The Democrats Monday launched an ad in Ohio in which Lilly Ledbetter, a Supreme Court litigant on pay equity, attacks McCain because he “opposed a law to give women equal pay for equal work. And he dismissed the wage gap, saying women just need education and training.” 

McCain told the Associated Press last April 23: “I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what’s being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems…This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private-enterprise system.”


Far more important is that McCain actually follows Obama and Biden’s gospel on this issue, almost to a fault.

McCain’s 17 male staffers split $916,914, thus averaging $53,936. His 25 female employees divided $1,396,958 and averaged $55,878.

#ad#On average, these figures show, women in John McCain’s Senate office make $1.04 for every dollar a man makes — a full 31 cents higher than Biden pays. (For detailed figures see this chart. I outline my methodology in my previous piece.)

In short, when it comes to implementing pay equity on Capitol Hill, the Democratic nominees talk a great game. However, in a three-way match-up, McCain earns the gold medal while Obama and Biden score silver and bronze, respectively.

To hear Obama and Biden taunt McCain on this issue is like being at the Beijing Olympics and hearing 200-meter butterfly medalists Cseh Laszlo of Hungary (silver) and Matsuda Takeshi of Japan (bronze) tell America’s gold-plated Michael Phelps to go take swimming lessons.

 – Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock — Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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