April 8th, 2014
11:33 AM ET

Inside Politics: Equal Pay Gap Reaches White House

What’s real and imagined about “equal pay day?"

Women make less than men, even at the White House: Happy Equal Pay Day! Well, not happy, really. Today is the day in the year when American women’s pay from last year catches up to that of American men. Women, according to the data, make about 77 cents for every dollar a man does. We’re 23% into 2014.

Whether or not there is an actual pay gap and how large it is remain the subject of some debate. The census data that shows women make 77 cents for every dollar men make is calculated by adding all the wages of women and dividing the total by all the wages of men. But that doesn’t take into account a lot of factors, like women taking time off work to have children or choosing different career paths.

Professional fact checkers at Factcheck.org  (“exaggeration”), Politifact (“Mostly False”) and The Washington Post (“one Pinocchio”) have all found problems with the claim. The American Association of University Women released a report that concluded the pay gap was closer to 7% than 23%.

For the past several elections, Democrats have adopted the equal pay issue and made the equality of paychecks a huge priority.

But the issue of equal pay plagues President Obama’s White House. An analysis by the conservative American Enterprise Institute found that women staffers made about 88 cents on the dollar, compared with male staffers.

A question on that discrepancy caught White House press secretary Jay Carney off guard Monday.

"What I can tell you is that we have, as an institution here, have aggressively addressed this challenge, and obviously, though, at the 88 cents that you cite, that is not a hundred, but it is better than the national average," he said. "And when it comes to the bottom line that women who do the same work as men have to be paid the same, there is no question that that is happening here at the White House at every level."

Two deputy chiefs of staff in the White House – one male and one female – Carney said, make the same salary.

Watch this story and more from today's "Inside Politics" with John King.

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