Democrats who insisted on minimum-wage laws refuse to pay interns

As President Obama’s Labor Department considers cracking down on private businesses that reward interns with credit rather than cash, Capitol Hill teems with unpaid interns who keep lawmakers’ offices running.

Interns perform a variety of important office tasks, including answering phones, leading constituent tours, and running errands. Many receive academic credit for their work as a part of their undergraduate or graduate studies, according to staff officials.

But top-ranking congressional Democrats, including those who pushed hard for legislation that raised the minimum wage in 2007, say they’re still comfortable with not paying interns who work in their offices.

Sen. John Kerry, who supported incrementally raising the minimum wage from $5.15 in 2007 to $7.25 in 2009, benefits directly from labor provided by unpaid interns.

“It’s no secret that good wages result in increased productivity, ultimately improving a firm’s bottom line and economic development in their community,” Kerry said in a 2007 press release. “In fact, the last time Congress raised the minimum wage, our country experienced the strongest economic growth in decades.”

A Kerry staffer insisted that internships are an invaluable experience for those who volunteer for the positions.

“I believe internship is an experience that comes before employment,” said Kerry spokeswoman Whitney Smith. “I was an intern here, and I had an incredible experience, and it led me to the job I have today.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also strongly supported the 2007 minimum wage bill bill.

“It is wrong to have millions of Americans working full-time and year-round and still living in poverty,” Pelosi said at the time.

Interns in the press office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi work as many as 32 hours per week, according to Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly.

“They know going into this that this is an internship,” Daly said. “They are doing this to get experience with how things work on the Hill, to see how Washington works, and to be a part of it. They really enjoy it.”

Nathan White, the press secretary for Rep. Dennis Kucinich, told The Daily Caller that it is the policy of his office to not discuss the terms of their internship program. But the congressman’s Web site provides some details.

“By working in a congressional office, you will be exposed to the inner workings of legislative government and the procedures of a congressional office,” the site reads. “All internships are unpaid.”

Daly said he believes that comparing internships to paid positions is misguided.

“I don’t think it’s the same thing,” Daly said. “Almost all of [the interns] are in school full-time, and this is part of their requirement to have an internship. Often I get letters afterwards, and they tell us how helpful it was and how much they liked it.”

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that officials in Oregon and California are cracking down on employers who violate minimum wage laws.

“Some of my friends can’t take these internships and spend a summer without making any money because they have to help pay for their own tuition or help their families with finances,” one unpaid intern said in the article.

The cost of living in the District of Columbia last year was the fourth-highest in the country among major metropolitan areas, according to the ACCRA Cost of Living Index. Housing on Capitol Hill often tops $1,000 per month.

“We’re trying to offer a strong opportunity to the folks back in Massachusetts and across the country who are interested in public service,” said Kerry spokeswoman Whitney Smith. “They get a rich experience here that enhances their work.”


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  • rainmaker1145

    Surprise! Do as I say, not as I do…

  • madtrucker

    When will we minions learn the elite know what is good for us? The law doesn’t apply to the elite.

  • jpatrickham

    The Democratic Party is not interested in taking there own advise, there job is to make policy not to abide by it. Those Interns should realise what a great privilege it is to be able to work under there tutelage. They should get down on her Knees and thank the Heavens, for the great opportunity to work behind Nancy Pelosi, and Barney Frank.

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  • anniebanannie

    “So regarding my earlier statement about Republicans rallying their base to vote by putting anti-gay marriage amendments on various ballots is not refuted.

    I challenge any of you to defend this shameful a”

    Letting the American citizenry vote on something is a “shameful act”? Well, I can see how you think –it’s ok for the democrats in Congress to ram numerous bills down the throats of Americans that don’t agree with them , but putting it up to a vote is “shameful”?

    “throwing tax paying, law abiding americans under the bus to get votes. Just the usual mocking and vitriol !”

    You mean like you do to the Tea Party?

    • des1

      Wow, this is the FIRST time I’ve ever agreed with that nitwit about anything. Not only was it scummy the way the Republicans played to the Social wing to get money and support in 2004, but it directly led to the nightmare we are facing now. Conservatives gave Republicans a pass on fiscal matters because the Republicans kept them happy by demagoging the social issues like gay marriage and immigration (neither of which they did anything about, btw).

      I keep hearing that Republicans “lost their way” between 2000-2006, but the truth is, they used issues like gay marriage to make the public look the other way while they behaved shamelessly. The funny thing is, the Democrats make those Republicans look like amateurs in regards to their scummy behavior. What’s even funnier is that they get elected by walking the line between promising gay rights and promising not to give gay rights (like Obama and Clinton who both said marriage should be between a man and a woman). Then they don’t do anything about it while they’re in office either.

      So basically, gay people are stupid for electing Democrats, since the only difference between the two parties when it comes to their issues is the rhetoric. The results are EXACTLY the same.

      • anniebanannie

        “Conservatives gave Republicans a pass on fiscal matters”

        I don’t know what conservative you hang out with, but every one of them I know was screaming to high heaven about the spending during the Bush years. Unfortunately, we were drowned out by the moderates and liberals in the Republican party. I don’t know any true Conservative that was fooled into going along to get along just because somebody talked about putting gay marriage up for a vote.

        “but it directly led to the nightmare we are facing now”

        We got to this nightmare because the moderates and liberals in the Republican party put a “Maverick” on the ballot.

        • des1

          A lot of Conservatives gave him and the Republican Congress a pass. You didn’t see anything remotely like we’re seeing now with protests and the average person getting involved. I was completely put off in 2004 because instead of running on issues, the GOP decided to run on a complete Social platform, and it worked. I’ve got news for you, Moderate and Liberal Republicans didn’t re-elect Bush and keep a Republican majority because they were pushing fears of gay marriage.

          McCain outperformed local Conservative Congressmen in almost every district in the country. It’s a statistical fact. If you think Romney or Huckabee would have performed better in the election you’re ignoring all the evidence. I really get tired of Conservatives blaming everyone else. The truth is that Conservatives can’t even define for themselves what Conservatism really means. Social Conservatives call you a RINO if you don’t agree with them on every issue. Fiscal Conservatives call you a RINO or a member of the Religious Right if you don’t agree with them. Instead of worrying about labeling everyone they don’t agree with 100% of the time, how about we all focus on what’s important….winning every possible race in November. Primaries are for people supporting the candidate they want the most (even if he/she can’t win). Once that’s decided, you have to vote for the better of the two candidates, or you wind up with Captain Transparency and his merry band of Czars.

          • anniebanannie

            “If you think Romney or Huckabee would have performed better in the election you’re ignoring all the evidence.”

            Where did I EVER say I supported those two? Are you frikken kidding me?

            I don’t agree with you, but I respect you and fortunately for you, I’m out of time today to argue :) . Suffice to say, let’s not let this happen again — Obama, I mean.

          • des1

            “Where did I EVER say I supported those two? Are you frikken kidding me?”

            Well, they were the only other choices along with McCain last time, so I figured if you thought he was the problem you must have liked one of them.

            We’ll agree on stopping Obama and Progressives like him in the future. I just wish we had started pushing back against big government 4 years earlier (actually we started with the immigration bill). Not only would it have caught the Republicans’ attention before the problem got so bad, but maybe we could have avoided having Nancy Pelosi be remembered in history as the first female Speaker of the House.

          • anniebanannie

            For the record, I’m a Duncan Hunter/ Thaddeus McCotter / Fred Thompson / Sam Brownback kind of conservative. Nobody’s perfect, but Thaddeus McCotter comes pretty damn close. Of course, that’s why he won’t run for President and become irrelevant.

          • des1

            I love Thad McCotter. My favorite guy is Paul Ryan, but I could live with McCotter at least as the Speaker of the House (if not VP). He’s the opposite of the old stodgy Conservative that applies to so many Republican higher-ups. I want to love Jindal as well, but the guy has to work on his communication skills and his behavior over the assault in New Orleans is pretty troubling.

            I don’t know what happened to Fred Thompson. He was great up to the minute he decided to run, then he became a humorless, lifeless automaton. The minute he stepped out, he went back to his old self. He and Rudy had the weirdest campaigns I’ve ever seen.

          • anniebanannie

            Agreed on Thompson – like the woman that wants to be asked to be a bride, but doesn’t want to get married. I think that was true for McCain as well — they just wanted the nomination to be relevant, I guess.

            I don’t know enough about Paul Ryan, but I’m going to take time real soon to learn. What do you think about Thune in South Dakota. I’ve worked with him – he’s the real deal.