Casey's may be the stupidest argument for McCain I have ever seen that is not clearly false.
Outsourced to Kathy G.:
The G Spot: The fine line between clever and stupid: In today's Wall Street Journal, University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan has an op-ed entitled "Vote Republican if You Want Equal Pay." Mulligan looked at Census data on women's pay relative to men's in every presidential administration from LBJ to the present. And lo and behold, he found that women's relative pay increased far more under Republican presidents than Democrat ones.
What to make of this? Well, I for one am thrilled that, after all these years, University of Chicago economists and the Wall Journal editorial page are demonstrating such a touchingly fervent devotion to the cause of women's pay equity -- that's an unexpected development, to say the least. And the piece certainly stands squarely in the grand tradition of the cutely counterintuitive op-ed -- no doubt about that. But, to paraphrase David St. Hubbins in This Is Spinal Tap, there's a fine line between clever and stupid. And in this piece, Mulligan has crossed it.
For decades, the Republicans have proved themselves time and time again to be no friends of women's pay equity. This, after all, is the same party that thought appointing Clarence Thomas as head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was a swell idea. It's also the party that appointed Thomas and the other four Supreme Court Justices who, in the recent Lilly Ledbetter case, voted to severely restrict women's ability to sue their employers for pay discrimination. And it's the party that, earlier this year, defeated the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law that would have overturned that Supreme Court decision and restored the right to file gender-based pay discrimination lawsuits. John McCain and the vast majority of Republican senators and Congressional representatives strenuously oppose the Ledbetter Act.
Given the Republicans' strong anti-equality record, Mulligan's finding that Republican presidents increase pay equity for women surely demands an explanation. What is the causal mechanism here? But curiously, Mulligan is entirely silent on this point. He offers no explanation for these findings -- not even the usual blather about how Republicans let the magic of the market do its thing.
There's a good reason why Mulligan is so coy here. Economists who have studied the pay gap, such as Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn, have noted that the closing of the gap is a function of two trends: rising earnings for women, and declining earnings for men. In the words of the economist Richard Freeman, beginning in the mid-1970s and continuing to the present, "An economic disaster has befallen low-skilled Americans, especially young men." As well-paying blue collar jobs became increasingly scarce, men's wages began to decline. At the same time, women were becoming increasingly well-educated and moving into previously male-dominated fields and professions in growing numbers.
As Larry Bartels has pointed out, the economic prospects of Americans at the lower end of the income scale fare much better when Democrats are in charge, and much worse under the Republicans. And this, I think, is the explanation as to why women's relative pay increases more during Republican administrations. It's not that Republican economic policies help women all that much -- it's that they hurt working class men. A lot.
In short, Mulligan's findings can be explained not by some covert feminist agenda on the part of the Republicans, but by their time-honored tradition of enthusiastically screwing over the working class. And though the outrageously specious and disingenuous nature of Mulligan's argument may be infuriating, but he's certainly not alone in pushing this brand of Republican faux feminism.
From their empowerful female vice presidential candidate who's a fervent believer in forced childbearing for 12-year old rape victims; to the many conservative commentators who in the blink of an eye have become Susan Faludi-like scourges of sexism in the media; to the Christian right leaders who, in their newfound refusal to condemn working mothers and teen pregnancy, have embraced the virtue of nonjudgmental tolerance with an ardor that would put the most urbane Manhattanite to shame -- it's all of a piece. Feminism lite -- it's the flavor of the month. You go girl!
For sheer unadulterated chutzpah, no one will ever beat the wingnuts. Their bogusity knows no bounds.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?