Kamala Harris Has a Plan to Close the 'Gender Pay Gap'—and It's Completely Unworkable

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, of California, formally launches her presidential campaign at a rally in her hometown of Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Is there really a significant gap between what men and women earn? Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris thinks so and she has a plan to fix it.



Harris’ plan, which broadly mandates that companies prove they aren’t discriminating against women, proposes to fine corporations that don’t close their pay gaps between women and men — with the proceeds going toward building out universal paid family and medical leave.

Several studies have shown that women earn less than men, with the gap larger for Latinas and black women. Harris previewed the plan at a Sunday rally in Los Angeles, taking aim at the pay gap. “This has got to end!” she said.

The problems with this proposal begin with definitions. What is “equal pay” anyway? Even more problematic, what defines “equal pay for equal work”?

Government tries to assign numerical values to specific jobs to measure gender discrimination. But each company is different, and trying to use numbers to define value would appear to be a futile undertaking.

This isn’t stopping Harris, who wants to overhaul anti-discrimination laws and turn the system into a cash cow to fund pet Democratic social programs, including universal paid family and medical leave:

Companies would be fined 1 percent of their average daily profits for every 1 percent of wage gap during the last fiscal year, after accounting for differences in job titles, experience and performance. It would generate an estimated $180 billion over a decade.


It gets worse:

Companies would also need to report the percentage of women in high-ranking leadership roles, and the percentage who are among their highest paid. “They will also be required to report the overall pay and total compensation gap that exists between men and women, regardless of job titles, experience, and performance,” the plan states. “These statistics will be reported by employees’ race and ethnicity.”

Set aside the monumental paperwork burden that the law’s reporting requirements would place on American business. As a practical exercise in governance, the law is unfair and unworkable. But then, this is not a serious proposal. It’s directed at a specific Democratic constituency: young, college-educated, single women. And while it won’t get through Congress, it’s another indication of how radical this field of Democratic presidential candidates can be and the continuing leftward drift of a party that has fallen out of the mainstream.


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