Report: Minimum wage hike backers rarely pay interns

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Breanna Deutsch Contributor
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Just because lawmakers want businesses to pay more for entry-level workers, doesn’t mean they are willing to do so themselves.

According to a new study by the Employment Policies Insitute (EPI), only four percent of the 210 lawmakers who pledged their allegiance to a bill raising the minimum wage pay their interns.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act would increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. EPI found that 96 percent of its House and Senate supporters give their interns a minimum wage of zero.

This includes the authors of the bill, Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin and California Democratic Rep. George Miller. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is another strong supporter of the legislation who doesn’t pay her interns.

These legislators did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

“To cavalierly call for a $10.10 minimum wage while the vast majority do not pay their interns, shows that they are talking out of both sides of their mouth and are not living up to the same standards they expect of others,” Michael Saltsman, EPI’s research director, told TheDCNF.

Thirty-five Senate offices pay their interns. Only 11 of them are headed by Democrats.

Saltsman added, “If you created a situation where you all of sudden had to pay for interns, there would be fewer intern positions available. A lot of folks up in Congress don’t seem to realize that the same dynamic applies in the private sector. If you raise the cost of hiring employees, there are going to be fewer opportunities available for workers.”

A minimum wage increase has been on the table since President Barack Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address, in which he told Americans, “Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.”

And more recently, Obama highlighted the issue in a lengthy New Yorker profile, informing the reporter that he would judge his time in office by his ability to fight income inequality.

“It’s an election year tactic. It’s an attempt to leverage people who are dissatisfied with the current state of the economy,” Saltsman told TheDCNF. “Instead of talking about Obamacare, we are talking about class warfare. I think Democrats are hoping they can use this to draw a contrast with Republicans and in close races around the country make them look like they are out of touch with the middle-class people.”

A number of studies have suggested that minimum wage increases harm the job prospects of lower-skilled workers and fail to deliver as an anti-poverty measure.

“I think this shows that it is really not about the workers… The fact that we keep talking about the minimum wage in the context of an election year means that it is a more cynical plan to put more Democrats in office,” Saltsman said. “Unfortunately, it is entry-level employees who are going to be fronting the tab.”

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