Where’s Obama’s outrage at an industry where women earn 1.4% of men?

Merill Matthews

, Rare Contributor

Posted on

President Obama keeps citing the statistical fraud that women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.  So why isn’t he going after one of the biggest offenders: professional basketball, where women basketball players earn 1.4 cents for every dollar a male player earns?

The president is trying desperately to find some issue to energize his base going into the 2014 elections—anything to keep the voters from focusing on his sluggish economy and Obamacare.

The problem with the president’s demagoguery is that the 77-cents statistic compares the median wage earned by all men to all women—regardless of education, skill, industry, specific job, experience, hours worked, or any other relevant factor.

As virtually any serious economist knows, those variations decline significantly or disappear when we compare nearly identical male and female workers. In other words, the more similar the job and qualifications, the more similar the pay—except in sports.

Women professional basketball players are playing the same game, have to train and practice just as hard, and have to compete just as strenuously as their male counterparts.  If you want to compare apples to apples, male and female professional basketball players are very close, and yet the pay disparity is enormous.

The average NBA salary—which is more available than the median salary—is $5.2 million a year. For the Women’s National Basketball Association, it’s around, oh, $72,000.

Where’s the outrage from Obama? Where are the Democratic senators introducing legislation to fix this horrendous disparity? Why isn’t the president sitting down with young female college basketball players explaining that the U.S. doesn’t value them because they don’t make the same as their male counterparts?

And what would happen if Congress tried to fix it, as Obama wants to do for the rest of the economy? Forcing WNBA teams to pay as much as the NBA would shut down the women’s teams. On the other hand, Obama could try to impose the women’s salary cap, $913,000 in 2013, on male players. Either way, he would likely destroy the game.

But apparently the president isn’t outraged over this disparity. White House press secretary Jay Carney doesn’t even seem to be concerned about the male-female pay disparity at the White House or among Democratic senators’ offices.

The president recently criticized conservatives for coming up with “phony scandals,” but there is no phonier scandal than his equal-pay campaign.  If he really believed it, he’d be attacking his favorite sport rather than trying to convince its players to sell his Obamacare policies.

Merill Matthews

Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation, a research-based, public policy think tank in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MerrillMatthews

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