Would it surprise you to hear that Democrats on Capitol Hill want everybody to pay the minimum wage except for themselves? New legislation to raise the federal minimum wage by 107% to $15 has garnered a lot of support from the left in Congress. However, a new analysis suggests that there is a case of “do as I say, not as I do” because most House and Senate sponsors and co-sponsors do not pay their interns one red cent for their work.
Around this time of the year, Washington is invaded by interns, young graduates who want to get some experience working for a congressman or a senator. These internships also provide an important lesson to the naïve youth: politicians can be quite hypocritical.
Last month, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Robert C. Scott (D-VA) introduced Raise the Wage Act of 2017. The bill has 159 House cosponsors and thirty Senate cosponsors. It essentially mandates businesses to pay their employees a so-called living wage of $15 and is being championed as a measure to help lift up the impecunious.
But are the Democrats as munificent as they appear to be? Not necessarily.
According to a new analysis from the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), 95% of the House and Senate sponsors and co-sponsors pay their interns $0.
The report shows that just ten members of either the House or Senate offer their interns some type of stipend. Sen. Sanders is the only member who pays his interns an hourly wage, but he only pays them $12 rather than the $15 he constantly demands private business to pay.
Michael Saltsman, EPI’s managing director, isn’t pleased by the double standards:
It’s hypocritical to rally for a $15 minimum wage when these lawmakers don’t pay their own entry level employees a cent. Policymakers might object to paying interns because it will reduce the number of available opportunities–but the same dynamic applies in the private sector, where businesses are forced to cut staff or close down.
Many of the members of both chambers say that interns receive something better than a paycheck, notes The Hill. For instance, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) offers participants “a unique learning experience, ” and Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) provides interns “a unique learning opportunity.”
Libertarian reporter Jan Helfeld showcased Rep. Pelosi’s hypocrisy in an interview in the early-2000s. Helfeld had repeatedly asked why Pelosi refuses to offer a minimum wage, but at the same time demand, McDonald’s to pay a minimum wage. The question angered Pelosi, and she ended the interview.
This isn’t the first time that Democrats’ two-faced behavior was on display. The EPI discovered in 2015 that 94% of House and Senate co-sponsors of legislation to boost the federal minimum wage to $12 did not remunerate their interns. The figure stood at 96% in 2013 for a similar proposed law.
Like Sen. Sanders joining the 1% club in 2016, nobody should begrudge Democrats for giving unpaid internships. They extend a wealth of opportunities and can be valuable to the individuals.
Unfortunately, for years, the left has had two primary objectives: raise the minimum wage and end the practice of unpaid internships in the private sector. Both goals are ridiculous.
First, the minimum wage establishes barriers for young people looking to get their first job, pad their resume with experience and obtain several on-the-job skills you can’t learn in school. Once legislators introduce a minimum wage and then effectively increase the dollar amount, they limit prospects for youth. When the minimum wage eventually reaches $15, businesses have no incentive to hire unskilled, inexperienced young workers, so they will inevitably seek out older, skilled and more experienced applicants. This is a part of the reason why the youth unemployment rate is 10%.
A higher minimum wage has real world consequences, even in the epicenter of concentrated power.
District of Columbia’s Office of Revenue Analysis published a report earlier this year that found as many as 1,200 D.C. jobs would be lost within the next three years because of the $15 wage. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that 500,000 jobs would be shed if the minimum wage jumped to $10.10. Jurisdictions, like Seattle that have implemented a $15 minimum wage have already suffered widespread job losses – many minimum wage workers have lost 401(k) benefits and paid vacation.
Second, unpaid internships help young graduates get their foot in the door. It allows them to accomplish a wide array of feats: everything from adding the internship to their CVs to gaining important industry contacts. Often, these same interns will be advanced a paid full-time position with the firm.
By imposing a minimum wage on business and attempting to eliminate unpaid internships, youth will have even more roadblocks placed in front of them and doors shut in their faces. Once politicians begin increasing labor costs on free enterprise, the plethora of opportunities will gradually vanish.
Perhaps that’s the intention of the left: have millennials and Generation Zeros dependent on the state.