Obamas want daughters to get taste of life on minimum wage: Parade

WASHINGTON Fri Jun 20, 2014 1:09am EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L) and First Lady Michelle Obama (R) hold hands with daughters Malia (L) and Sasha as they walk from the White House to St. John's Church for Sunday services, in Washington, October 27, 2013.    REUTERS/Mike Theiler

U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L) and First Lady Michelle Obama (R) hold hands with daughters Malia (L) and Sasha as they walk from the White House to St. John's Church for Sunday services, in Washington, October 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Theiler

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and wife Michelle both worked minimum-wage jobs before they got law degrees: a character-building experience they said they also want their teenage daughters to share.

The president scooped ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, waited tables at an assisted-living facility for seniors and also worked as a painter. The first lady worked at a book binding shop.

"I think every kid needs to get a taste of what it's like to do that real hard work," Michelle Obama said in an interview with Parade magazine, slated to run on Sunday.

"We are looking for opportunities for them to feel as if going to work and getting a paycheck is not always fun, not always stimulating, not always fair," the president said. "But that's what most folks go through every single day."

The first couple has taken pains to keep their daughters Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13, out of the public eye while in the White House. But Malia was recently spotted on the set of a CBS television program, working as a production assistant for a day.

The Obamas gave the interview to promote a summit the White House is holding on Monday to discuss policies to help working families.

"There are structures that can help families around child care, healthcare, and schooling that make an enormous difference in people's lives," Obama said in the interview. (Parade: bit.ly/1lCnKai)

This year, Obama has tried to focus on issues such as ensuring equal pay for women, expanding early childhood education and hiking the minimum wage. These issues so far have failed to gain traction in Congress, but do resonate with Democratic voters.

To advance his agenda, he needs Democrats to keep control of the Senate after November midterm elections, where Republicans stand a good chance of getting a majority, and likely also will retain control of the House of Representatives.

"If we can highlight these issues and sustain it over the next year, it's still possible to see bold action out of Congress," Obama said.

In the interview, the Obamas talked about how they lived for a year on the second floor of the house of Michelle's mom Marian Robinson after law school, drove a used car that they bought for $1,000, and worked through the stress of being saddled with student loans and small children.

They acknowledged that their careers gave them the chance to earn good incomes and negotiate family leave when they needed it - a luxury that most minimum-wage workers do not have.

"But what it made me think about was people who were on the clock," the president said. "If you're an hourly worker in most companies, and you say, 'I've got to take three days off,' you may lose your job. At minimum, you're losing income you can't afford to lose," he said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (16)
Syanis wrote:
So I noticed they said BOTH Obama’s worked Min wage jobs before finishing their degree and moving to their practiced profession. Doesn’t this suggest Min Wage is just fine and the problem is Min Wage jobs being abused by Min Wage workers who refuse to push for a higher education rather wanting the Feds to mandate them more money instead of working for it?

Just goes to show Min Wage is MEANT to be a stepping stone and that is all.

Of course working a crap wage job for a day is nothing. Try doing it for 2 years while saving for college or studying in college before can apply for something a bit better. Also not coming home to fancy meals and tons of other sh*t you can’t afford on a Min Wage job.

Jun 20, 2014 4:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ready2013 wrote:
you are correct. I also started at the bottom, but that was just to help pay for college. I did not expect the minimum wage to support me for life but my low hourly rate got me started and paid for my education.

Jun 20, 2014 7:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
BeRealistic wrote:
So true Syanis.

As much as I despise the “strikes” and protests for unrealistic minimum wages, I do think a policy of keeping pace with inflation could be implemented. No one doing any job should have to endure loss of spending power I don’t think just because of the job they do. To keep up with 2% inflation, then you get a .15 cent raise, not a $5 raise. Do well and stay in the job a couple of years (or more), then it would be respectful for the employer to provide a modest incentive/longevity raise to you, may 3-5%/year, but that is provided because of the person filling th ejob, not associated with the job.

Jun 20, 2014 9:41am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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