Obamas: Daughters should experience hard work, minimum wage job
June 20th, 2014
12:39 PM ET
8 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.

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"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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I bet Jenna & Barbara Bush never had to work a hard day ever
    Let me take a dip in the cesspool and say that they had to be sober first to hold down a job.
    Aaah! The feel of muck around me.

    June 20, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    There are a number of food pantries that double as day care centers, or senior centers, in DC that could provide wonderful experiences.

    June 20, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    barky says:
    June 20, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm
    The military would be good.

    Like Mittens' useless SONS did???

    FIFY Hater.

    June 20, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. salty dog

    Must be, I missed the part where the Democrats think you should be able to live on it, as you described, you just have to twist, and stretch, and you still sound pathetic, go figure.

    June 20, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. Tony

    They will go to elite Ivy League like Harvard and then join the elites in Washington or New York.

    June 20, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "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."

    I think maybe you should stop dong bath salts and then sitting down at the computer to type out ridiculous knee-jerk criticism of Obama. Then maybe you'd have something cogent and rational to say instead.

    June 20, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. Amazing

    The insanity of our politics is highlighted with these posts. What the President and his wife aspire for their kids is no different than what other financially wealthy or famous people aspire for their kids. As a kid, I worked what would be considered a minimum wage job today growing in the South Bronx. My parents insisted that I work as a teenager. Those experiences helped me developed a work ethic that has led to a successful career. My kids have grown living in a gated country club community. Just like my parents and the Obamas, I have pushed them to work in "minimum wage" jobs because it is a great learning experience. The Obamas know the difficulties their children have growing up in the public eye and would like to try to bring a sense of reality into their world. This story is really about parenting which some have conveniently used as an opportunity to spew hate and political rhetoric.

    June 20, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
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