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EDITORIAL: Democrats hire unpaid interns while looking to force employers to pay higher minimum wages

Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, once said that “equality means dignity” and “dignity demands a job and a paycheck that lasts through the week.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says “if we have family values, we must raise the minimum wage.”

Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, thinks raising the minimum wage “is not only good for the economy, it’s the right thing to do.”

Thus, Reps. Hoyer, Pelosi and Waters have joined 181 other lawmakers in co-sponsoring the Raise the Wage Act, a bill that would outlaw all jobs that don’t pay at least $15 an hour.

If ever there was a clear-cut case of “do as I say, not as I do” hypocrisy, this is it.

The Employment Policy Institute reported last week that Reps. Hoyer, Pelosi and Waters are among the 95 percent of the bill’s co-sponsors who hire unpaid interns for their congressional staffs.

The institute collected data from the websites of senators and representatives or via calls with lawmakers’ staff members, and found that 24 of the bill’s co-sponsors in the Senate, along with 149 of the bill’s co-sponsors in the House, don’t pay their interns a dime.

Only nine co-sponsors — or 5 percent — offer their interns a stipend of some kind, and of those, Sen. Bernie Sanders is the only one who pays an hourly wage. And Sen. Sanders pays $12 an hour, not the $15 an hour he wants to force on employers in the private sector.

As the EPI points out, the progressive co-sponsors of the bill are quick to argue that paying their interns more — or anything at all, for that matter — will limit the number of opportunities they can offer.

Goodness. Apparently, the laws of economics apply even to progressive politicians!

“It’s hypocritical to rally for a $15 minimum wage when these lawmakers don’t pay their own entry level employees a cent,” said Michael Saltsman, EPI’s managing director. “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.”

When the cost of low-skilled labor increases, employers have to make difficult choices that reflect those rising costs. Many low-skilled workers get priced out of the entry level job market.

Of course, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Maxine Waters know all of this, but they prefer to score cheap political points rather than to worry about the actual impact of their misguided, redistributionist policies. After all, it’s hard to go out of business when you’re always playing with other people’s money.

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