As CA eyes big-box ban, Wal-Mart fan ascends at White House

May 29, 2013

By Chris Reed

As hard left as it can seem, even the Obama administration isn’t as doctrinaire as the leftists who dominate Sacramento.

As I have written about several times for Cal Watchdog, state Democrats and even many of their allies in California’s media refuse to acknowledge that the White House sees fracking as just another heavy industry, not hell on Earth. To quote Obama’s secretary of the interior, Sally Jewell …

I know there are those who say fracking is dangerous and should be curtailed, full stop. That ignores the reality that it has been done for decades and has the potential for developing significant domestic resources and strengthening our economy and will be done for decades to come.”

Who does President Obama tap as his top economist? Wal-Mart’s top defender

walmart.evilNow we see another entertaining contrast between the Obama White House and Democrats inside the Capitol. Both the following items were reported this week.

This is from Capital Public Radio on Monday:

“Big-box stores like Walmart may be known for low prices, but, increasingly, they’re also known for generating controversy. A bill up for a vote in the State Assembly this week brings that controversy front and center. It would require some big-box stores to pay for an economic impact report before moving into an area.”

This is from Slate on Wednesday:

“People are reporting today that Jason Furman, a longtime Obama administration official currently serving as a deputy on the National Economic Council, will be tapped to chair the Council of Economic Advisors.”

So just who is the academic tapped by the president to be his point man on economic policy? A guy who thinks critics of Wal-Mart are deluded. What follows is a recycled, slightly modified take on Furman that I posted previously.

Big-box king ‘especially important to poor and moderate-income’ families

Sebastian Mallaby of the Washington Post wrote about Furman and Wal-Mart in 2005:

jason_furman_foto“Furman advised [John] Kerry in the 2004 campaign and has never received any payment from Wal-Mart; he is no corporate apologist. But he points out that Wal-Mart’s discounting on food alone boosts the welfare of American shoppers by at least $50 billion a year. The savings are possibly five times that much if you count all of Wal-Mart’s products.

“These gains are especially important to poor and moderate-income families. The average Wal-Mart customer earns $35,000 a year, compared with $50,000 at Target and $74,000 at Costco.

“Moreover, Wal-Mart’s ‘every day low prices’ make the biggest difference to the poor, since they spend a higher proportion of income on food and other basics. As a force for poverty relief, Wal-Mart’s $200 billion-plus assistance to consumers may rival many federal programs. Those programs are better targeted at the needy, but they are dramatically smaller. Food stamps were worth $33 billion in 2005, and the earned-income tax credit was worth $40 billion.”

Furman’s and Mallaby’s anti-anti-Wal-Mart case doesn’t end there:

“Wal-Mart’s critics also paint the company as a parasite on taxpayers, because 5 percent of its workers are on Medicaid. Actually that’s a typical level for large retail firms, and the national average for all firms is 4 percent.

“Moreover, it’s ironic that Wal-Mart’s enemies, who are mainly progressives, should even raise this issue. In the 1990s progressives argued loudly for the reform that allowed poor Americans to keep Medicaid benefits even if they had a job. Now that this policy is helping workers at Wal-Mart, progressives shouldn’t blame the company.”

Anyone who doubts Wal-Mart is good for poor people should go to one and compare the cars in the parking lot with the cars one sees at Ralphs, Vons or Albertsons. Poor people believe Wal-Mart is good for them.

Assemblyman Roger Hernandez puts bull’s eye on ‘ordinary families’

More from Mallaby with specific pertinence to the efforts to block Wal-Mart “Supercenters” in California:

Roger-Hernandez-mugshot“Companies like Wal-Mart are not run by saints. They can treat workers and competitors roughly. They may be poor stewards of the environment. When they break the law they must be punished. Wal-Mart is at the center of the globalized, technology-driven economy that’s radically increased American inequality, so it’s not surprising that it has critics.

“But globalization and business innovation are nonetheless the engines of progress; and if that sounds too abstract, think of the $200 billion-plus that Wal-Mart consumers gain annually.

“If critics prevent the firm from opening new branches, they will prevent ordinary families from sharing in those gains. Poor Americans will be chief among the casualties.”

Yet this is just what Democrats in the Legislature, led by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, hope to do. But a single Wal-Mart store in an impoverished area does more to truly help the poor than all the Democratic lawmakers in Sacramento combined.

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