“This is as serious a challenge on fiscal matters as I’ve ever seen,” Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer said.
But what we are seeing that we haven’t expected is support for what may be called privatized financial oligarchy at the local level.
For example, Obama wants to increase the minimum wage, which hasn’t been touched for four years (making him the first president in decades in whose term there’s been no increase.) This disregard -- even disdain -- for the working poor reflects what Obama calls a “winner-take-all economy where a few do better and better, while everybody else just treads water.”
The nation’s single largest employer, Wal-Mart, has courted the Washington, D.C. city council for months, helped by a prestigious local lobbyist, David W. Wilmot, who receives a retainer of $10,000 a month. Wal-Mart wants to build six stores in the District, which major retailers, preferring the wealthier suburbs, have shunned for years.
That would seem to be good news. Except Wal-Mart underpays its employees. A study by the state of Ohio found that “15,484 Wal-Mart workers and dependents received Medicaid benefits in June 2009, and 12,872 Wal-Mart workers and dependents got food stamps.” The state representative who commissioned the study, Youngstown Democrat Robert Hagan, extrapolated that Ohio taxpayers shelled out $67 million for Wal-Mart employees.
It gets worse. Wal-Mart publicly supported Obamacare, then this year kicked thousands of its employees off its health plans by demoting them to part-time employees. All employees hired after January 2012 who work under 30 hours a week, will lose Wal-Mart’s health plan. For many, that means the state will pick up the tab.
Enter the D.C. Council, which saw a need to provide for its citizens who have no union representation. The council passed a “living wage” bill that will apply to large corporations without unions, like Wal-Mart. Businesses with more than $1 billion in income yearly, and over 75,000 square feet of retail space, must pay their employees $12.50 per hour.