Liberal groups often denounce Walmart and other retailers for being recipients of indirect taxpayer-funded “corporate welfare.” But they do so inconsistently.
Good Jobs First, a pro-union group, declares, “Many Walmart workers are ineligible for health coverage from their employer or choose not to purchase what is available, because it is too expensive or too limited in scope. These workers often turn to taxpayer-funded health programs such as Medicaid.”
So even when Walmart offers workers insurance, its critics lambaste the company because some people choose to decline coverage in order to get welfare benefits. This “corporate welfare” attack was always a stretch. Without Walmart, many low-income workers wouldn’t be workers at all. Any job is a good job for the unemployed.
Yet Good Jobs First and similar groups are largely silent about the corporate impact of food stamps. Walmart gets about 18 percent of total U.S. outlays on food stamps. Walmart and similar companies have spent millions lobbying Congress to support the food stamp program in recent years. The end of a temporary federal stimulus program that increased food stamp benefits could potentially reduce revenue for some grocers; Walmart has lowered its sales forecast.
So liberal groups appear outraged about dubious indirect “corporate welfare” via Medicaid, but not a more blatant example of indirect corporate subsidy via food stamps. That seems contradictory, until you note the common theme. Their “solution” to the insurance issue involves significant pay increases that artificially raise the cost of employing people with limited skills, discouraging companies from hiring them and raising food prices, which hurts low-income citizens the most. Food stamp dependence can make it difficult for recipients to transition into self-sufficiency through employment.
The common theme is not whether businesses benefit from welfare programs, but liberals’ support of misguided policies that ultimately reduce poor citizens’ job opportunities in the private sector.