As we reported last week, the overwhelming majority of our lawmakers supporting a $15 minimum wage all have one thing in common: they pay a minimum wage of zero dollars an hour to their interns. At least 174 of the Raise the Wage Act’s 184 co-sponsors (95 percent of them) hire unpaid interns. Even Bernie Sanders, who is among those who does pay his interns, pays them $12 an hour (which doesn’t get you very far in Washington D.C.).So what does someone looking to gain some political experience and support themselves financially at the same time need to do? Simple: work for a Republican.
According to the Washington Examiner, a new study finds far more Republican Senate offices pay their interns than Democrat offices do.Nearly 51 percent of Republican Senate offices offer paid internship compared to just 31 percent of Democrat offices, according to a new study from the bipartisan group Pay Our Interns. On the House side, only 8 percent of Republican offices pay their interns compared to just 3.6 percent of Democrat offices.
“Democrats like to say, ‘Well, you know, you’re getting paid with knowing that you’re making a difference, Republicans have no illusions that people should get paid for their work,” Carlos Mark Vera, one of the study’s authors told the Washington Examiner.
From 1973 to 1993 it was standard practice to pay interns working in the House of Representatives under the Lyndon Baines Johnson Congressional Intern Program. The program provided a $1,000 two-month internship to students. However, Congress has not appropriated funds for it since the early 1990s.Vera, says the lack of paid internships provided by Congress combined with high cost of living in the District of Columbia is preventing minorities from pursuing internships on Capitol Hill. He notes there is a great disparity between the participation of Caucasians in internship programs compared to Hispanics and African-Americans.
Vera argues unpaid internships favor those of higher socio-economic status because only those who can afford to work for free or have parents that can support their child can seek those opportunities. As a first-generation immigrant from Colombia, Vera says the goal of Pay our Interns is to make public service careers more accessible to minorities and those of all socioeconomic backgrounds, not just on racial lines.
Speaking of hypocrisy, when it comes to another partisan issue, the supposed-gender wage gap, President Barack Obama paid his male staffers 10 percent more than his female staffers, but in the case of Trump, “Among assistants to the president, women make an average of $664 more than their male counterparts, according to an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to provide gender pay data to Bloomberg News. For deputy assistants, the second-highest rank, men earn $4,603 more than their female counterparts. For special assistants, the third-highest rank, women earn $3,786 more, the official said.”Next thing you know, we’ll find out Republicans pay their female interns more too.