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Friday, July 3, 2009

Liberals cheer Wal-Mart's kneecapping of smaller competitors

Big business supports big government once again--and I have the explanation in my Examiner column:

We've read all sorts of airy explanations from liberal bloggers who focus on health care. Ezra Klein at the Washington Post writes that Wal-Mart's endorsement "ensures that its concerns will be heard and heeded," and "repairs ... damage ... done to its reputation in recent years."

CAP, which has received at least $500,000 from Wal-Mart according to the company's website, argued that Wal-Mart was supporting the mandate because "all firms would benefit from the reduction in unpaid medical bills incurred by the uninsured." These are nice, harmless explanations that miss the point.

The New Republic's health-care blogger, Jonathan Cohn, came close to Wal-Mart's true motivation: "Wal-Mart has suddenly found itself ... dealing with unpredictable health costs and facing new competition from businesses that have found ways to spend even less on employee health benefits."

The most important part of that analysis can be put more simply: Wal-Mart sees a way to use government as cudgel with which to knee-cap smaller opponents.

You see, Wal-Mart already offers health insurance to all full-time employees and some part-time employees. Many of Wal-Mart's competitors do not do this, which is why the National Retail Federation opposes the mandate. An employer mandate imposes costs on Wal-Mart's competitors, possibly without imposing costs on Wal-Mart.

Read the whole thing here.

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