White House Corrects Obama’s Words

Photograph by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Women work on the engine of a GM truck on the assembly line of the General Motors Flint Assembly Plant in Michigan.

When the president hopped on a hastily planned conference call  intended to push the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, he got a key statistic wrong. But that would be corrected for him hours later.

President Obama mistakenly said that women earn 70 cents for every dollar that men make. The correct statistic is 77 cents on the dollar.

Three hours after the noon call, the White House circulated by e-mail a revised transcript crossing out the “70” and replacing it with “77” with a note at the top: “Please see below for a correction (marked with an asterisk*).”

This is apparently standard practice for the White House — correcting wording when the president misspeaks and when the transcriber has made  a mistake. On May 11 in Reno, Nevada, the White House issued a similar correction when the president incorrectly said his mortgage refinancing proposal would save families $3,000 “a month” when he should have said $3,000 “a year.”

The problem? For those who weren’t on the conference call, or there to witness the president speak, the transcript could make it look as though the mistake may have been the transcriber’s fault.

The White House, no doubt, is paying close attention to the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is heading to Congress for a procedural vote tomorrow. The legislation, which failed on a procedural vote in the Senate in 2010 and is expected to fail again, would make it easier for workers to win pay discrimination lawsuits.

The legislation could help Obama energize a key voting bloc: unmarried women.

Pay discrepancy most acutely affects single women, who delivered 70 percent of their votes to Obama in 2008. This year 55 million of them are eligible to vote.

And that was 70 percent of the vote. The White House would certainly take 77 percent this year.

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