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Report: Nancy Pelosi, other Dems wanting minimum wage hike pays interns nothing

Nancy Pelosi calls for minimum wage hike but pays interns nothing.
Nancy Pelosi calls for minimum wage hike but pays interns nothing.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin and California Democratic Rep. George Miller want businesses to pay more in wages to entry-level workers, but are unwilling to pay their interns anything, the Daily Caller reported Sunday.

Pelosi, Harkin and Miller aren't alone. A report by the Employment Policies Institute shows that 96 percent of the 210 lawmakers who pledged to support and work for a minimum wage hike do not pay their interns.

But the bill authored by Harkin and Miller -- the Fair Minimum Wage Act -- would increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.

It's a clear case of "do as I say, not as I do."

Of the 35 Senate offices that pay their interns, only 11 are run by Democrats, the Daily Caller added.

“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 the Daily Caller.

“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," he added.

A federal minimum wage increase has been on the table since Obama's 2013 State of the Union Address, when the president called for a hike to nine dollars an hour, the Daily Caller added.

“It’s an election year tactic. It’s an attempt to leverage people who are dissatisfied with the current state of the economy,” Saltsman added. “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.”

Polls show Americans do not care about income inequality, but do care about jobs and the economy.

Last Wednesday, Fox News said a new poll shows only 13 percent thinks the government should do something about the issue, even though 56 percent think the minimum wage should be increased.

A Pew poll released last May found the same thing, according to U.S. News and World Report:

But the greatest puzzle in the poll is the finding about inequality: many Americans see inequality as a problem, but few see it as a high priority for government to address. Behind this finding lies a challenge for those working towards a more just and sustainable economy, and a rhetorical edge for defenders of the status quo.

Other studies show minimum wage hikes will hurt job prospects for many entry-level workers and fails as an anti-poverty measure.

Nevertheless, the topic remains a priority for Democrats.

“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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