Obamas: Daughters should experience hard work, minimum wage job
June 20th, 2014
12:39 PM ET
5 years ago

Obamas: Daughters should experience hard work, minimum wage job

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama agreed their two daughters should have an understanding of what it's like to earn a paycheck at a minimum wage job.

In an interview with Parade magazine released Friday, the first couple was asked if they think their teenage daughters, Sasha and Malia, should experience the kind of minimum wage jobs they did growing up.

"Oh, yeah. I think every kid needs to get a taste of what it's like to do that real hard work," Mrs. Obama said.

The President added: "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. But that's what most folks go through every single day."

The President told Parade he scooped ice cream at Baskin Robins and worked as a waiter at an assisted living facility. Michelle Obama said she worked at a bindery while she was in high school. That experience, she said, gave her "an understanding that more is needed for folks to be able to cobble together a decent life on minimum wage."

The Obamas said they struggled financially after they both finished law school. And though they were not poor, they said they lived upstairs at Michelle's mother's house for some time.

The interview comes ahead of the Working Families Summit, an event the Obamas will host Monday in Washington, to discuss fair workplace practices.

The White House has made the issue of raising the minimum wage a hallmark of the President's second term agenda. In February, Obama announced that, starting in 2015, businesses with new or renewed federal contracts will have to pay their minimum wage workers $10.10 an hour - an increase from the country's federal minimum wage of $7.25 mandated through executive order.

Congress failed in April to approve a bill raising the federal minimum wage. Democrats and Obama blasted Republicans for their opposition to the initiative, framing the issue ahead of November's midterm election as polls indicate a majority of Americans are in favor of boosting the minimum wage.

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Another issue the White House is highlighting of late is equal pay. Asked if she felt she was paid fairly during her career in law, Mrs. Obama said she didn't think about it - and that was a problem.

"When I got hired in my firm, I was grateful. There wasn't even a thought of negotiating at all. I thought I was there to do a good job," she said. "Now I realize that that's one of the challenges that we have as women: We don't negotiate for ourselves."

In April, the President signed two executive actions to strengthen existing equal pay laws, calling the discrepancy an "embarrassment."


Filed under: Malia Obama • Michelle Obama • Minimum wage • President Obama • Sasha Obama
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Beautiful family!

    June 20, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  2. it must be said

    Nobody in the their right mind believes the minimum wage was ever supposed to be able to feed a family of 4 and put them through college. It is a minimum wage for a minimal skill set. If you want to make more, then you need to get the educate and skill set that will pay more. But the lefties just want to spend everybody elses money for them and give it to their supporters no matter how many jobs and companies it kills. They could simply care less because they figure they can always blame that on somebody else.

    June 20, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Tony D

    I think Obama's daughters should experience living under strict Sharia law as should Michelle. Then maybe Obama would not be throwing Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to terrorists that would impose it on the woman there.

    June 20, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    So I heard Malia has a summer job, I wonder how long it will take to hear...

    " She got it through Afirmitive Action" ( I purposely misspelled Affirmative btw)

    "Her dictator father probably demanded she be hired or the IRS and the NSA are going to come for them."

    It's amazing the level of hatred against this First Family.

    June 20, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. smith

    Yeah right, I `ll believe this story when I see it. The Obama gals will head to college after high school and never see a min. wage job in their lifetime.

    June 20, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. Malory Archer

    smith
    Yeah right, I `ll believe this story when I see it. The Obama gals will head to college after high school and never see a min. wage job in their lifetime.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Jealous much?

    June 20, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. Malory Archer

    Tony D
    I think Obama's daughters should experience living under strict Sharia law as should Michelle. Then maybe Obama would not be throwing Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to terrorists that would impose it on the woman there.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    But it's okay to do so in Saudi Arabia because they're our friends, right?

    June 20, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. Silence DoGood

    @Tony D
    I think Obama's daughters should experience living under strict Sharia law as should Michelle. Then maybe Obama would not be throwing Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to terrorists that would impose it on the woman there.
    ------------
    If the Radical Right Christians get their Theocracy established, you will get your wish. Everyone will under Sharia Law.

    June 20, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. barky

    So sad

    June 20, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Here's something else to think about:
    These girls have been exposed at an early age to people from all walks of life, poor and rich alike.
    Remember what many of you would not let us forget (as if we wanted to): their father was a COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    I don't know too many rich folks that live in the communities that Obama was organizing.
    My point being that I do believe that President and Mrs. Obama will make sure that their daughters continue to lead a well-rounded existence by making sure that they do not forget from whence they came and how that half of the equation continues to live.

    June 20, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. anotherGDlefty

    Ohh Tony D, what a miserable existence you must have.
    Did you feel the same way about Jenna and Barbara too or is it just these girls you hate?
    Maybe you should take a second amendment solution out on yourself if life here is so horrible for you...

    June 20, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Dead Bear

    @it must be said... I love your generalizations of what all "lefties" believe. Such insight from someone who is obviously on the outside looking in as far as ideologies are concerned... And by the way, I'll start taking anything you say in regards to the economy seriously the second you Republicans drop your delusional belief that trickle-down economics were a booming success and not the abject failure that history has shown it to be.

    June 20, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. Moderate Sean

    I honestly do not understand how every simple story must be turned into some personal attack on this man or his family – I get if people have legitimate differences in policy or ideology – that makes perfect sense, just keep the differences civil. But, no matter if the piece is an everyday life story or is non-political in nature, all the truly bitter people must turn the story into a nasty attack on the person. I am extremely proud of this country and what it has brought to the world, but I am SO SICK (down to my core) of the political hacks on here (elsewhere too) & the outright mean-spirited nature of people (posters) who feel that they must spew their hatred at all times, just because they can....this great country I feel is being destroyed from within day-by-day! It just disgusts me anymore.....grown-up, get along, and learn to play with those that differ from you. Our differences are what have always made us "GREAT"!! Learn some history people....

    June 20, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  14. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    "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. But that's what most folks go through every single day."
    -------------------------------------
    I bet Jenna & Barbara Bush never had to work a hard day ever.

    June 20, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    @smith
    Yeah right, I `ll believe this story when I see it. The Obama gals will head to college after high school and never see a min. wage job in their lifetime.

    Thanks for the cheer/ I doubt you are happy during an orgasm.

    June 20, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. barky

    The military would be good.

    June 20, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The Obamas are great parents.
    They are not trust fund babies.
    Everything they have they've earned and made themselves.
    Their is absolutely NO reason to believe that they will not keep their daughters grounded, civically and socially responsible individuals by making sure they are exposed to the realities of life first hand.
    And before the usual suspects start yapping about their private school education let me just remind you that they are the daughters of the President of these United States.
    Public school is NOT an option.

    June 20, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  18. smith

    @Malory- So your basically agreeing that the Obama Gals will not work a min. wage job?

    June 20, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. bobo

    Yeah.... real minimum wage. $8.50 an hour......

    June 20, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. Hillary Izexi

    Too bad Obama's failed economic policies has made living on minimum wage harder than it ever was.
    Instead of working to get the economy running, his solution... Hike up the minimum wage.
    Who cares if prices go up to compensate for higher personnel costs.
    Who cares if EVERYONE effectively gets a pay cut.
    Who cares if employers stop hiring because it costs too much.

    Obama: Sub-par

    June 20, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. smith

    @Jeff Brown- Im sorry, I didn`t mean to speak out against your lord and master. smh.

    June 20, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ smith; My friend, what gives with you?
    We didn't always agree but I could at least count on you to stay above the hateful fray.
    I shouldn't have to remind you that their father was a community organizer.
    I don't know too many rich people that live in the communities that Obama was trying to organize.
    It stands to reason that these girls have been brought up with a heightened sense of social conscience and civic responsibility.
    It is therefore NOT unrealistic to have the Obamas continue to expose them to the fact of life by having them experience what it is like to work a minimum-wage job.

    June 20, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. Would You Look at That

    One of the few things I have ever agreed with the Obama family on. Kudos.

    June 20, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  24. Harry Legg

    Minimum wage job – ya right, not happening more BS from the lying liar...

    June 20, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    it must be said says:
    June 20, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm
    Nobody in the their right mind believes the minimum wage was ever supposed to be able to feed a family of 4 and put them through college. It is a minimum wage for a minimal skill set. If you want to make more, then you need to get the educate and skill set that will pay more. But the lefties just want to spend everybody elses money for them and give it to their supporters no matter how many jobs and companies it kills. They could simply care less because they figure they can always blame that on somebody else.

    I don't think anyone actually expected to feed a family of 4 on minimum wage when it was first enacted. However due to the loss of millions of jobs, many in the Automotive Industry, many companies have lowered their starting pay. Also there was a time when lots of people received on the job training. Not so much now, unless you look a certain way or are a relative. Since 2008 people are working for much less than they used to. Because they are desperate to feed their families.

    June 20, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
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