A watchdog group called LegiStorm posts online the salaries for Capitol Hill staffers. "We have no political affiliations and no political purpose except to make the workings of Congress as transparent as possible," its website explains. Parsing LegiStorm's official data, gleaned from the Secretary of the Senate, offers a fascinating glimpse at pay equity in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body.
The most recent statistics are for the half-year from Oct. 1, 2007 to March 31, 2008, excluding interns and focusing on full-time personnel. For someone who worked only until, say, last Feb. 29, extrapolating up to six months' service simplifies this analysis. Doubling these half-year figures illustrates how a year's worth of Senate employees' paychecks should look.
Based on these calculations, Obama's 28 male staffers divided among themselves total payroll expenditures of $1,523,120. Thus, Obama's average male employee earned $54,397.
Obama's 30 female employees split $1,354,580 among themselves, or $45,152, on average.
Why this disparity? One reason may be the under-representation of women in Obama's highest-compensated ranks. Among Obama's five best-paid advisors, only one was a woman. Among his top 20, seven were women.
Again, on average, Obama's female staffers earn just 83 cents for every dollar his male staffers make. This figure certainly exceeds the 77-cent threshold that Obama's campaign website condemns. However, 83 cents do not equal $1. In spite of this 17-cent gap between Obama's rhetoric and reality, he chose to chide GOP presidential contender John McCain on this issue.