Obama jokes Michelle is a 'bad example' on equal pay

First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Jill Biden takes starring role at difficult Olympics Obama to adapt memoir 'Dreams From My Father' for young readers MORE is "kind of a bad example" for the need for pay equality, President Obama joked Tuesday.

"I will say, the first lady's kind of a bad example because the first lady doesn't get paid. And she works pretty hard," the president said at a roundtable discussion on manufacturing in Pittsburgh. 


Looking to head off criticism, Obama was quick to note that "obviously, we're ok."

The quip came at the end of an extended discussion about how family-friendly policies were good for business. The White House has championed equal pay legislation that would provide additional protections for female workers, but the bill stalled in Congress earlier this year.

Obama said that before his presidential run, his wife made a point of emphasizing the importance of her family when interviewing for jobs.

"When she worked at the University of Chicago hospital, her first interview, she actually brought Sasha into the meeting with the CEO. She just wanted to kind of see, all right, how is he going to respond?" Obama said. "Sasha was still in the bassinet -- you know, the car seat thing."

The future first lady's point, Obama said, was to tell her employer, "this is who I am."

"I think I can do a really good job. But it means that if I have to take her to a pediatrician I don't want to have to argue about whether or not I can do that. And if you are supportive of my efforts with my family, then you're going to get 110 percent out of me. But you've got to have some flexibility in terms of time and so forth," Obama sad, channeling his wife.

The president went on to say that equal pay was an issue that also affected men.

"You know, if Michelle's not being paid fairly, then that's not helping me," Obama said. "I want her to get what -- you know, what she rightfully deserves. I want her being paid the same as a man doing the same job because that is helping our family."