Bill Maher on Friday went to town on the hypocrisy of small government conservatives fighting efforts to increase minimum wages and to get corporations to pay a fair wage:
Just for the fast food industry alone, American taxpayers pay $7 billion in public assistance programs because fast food workers aren’t paid enough to feed their families:
- Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, $3.9 billion per year
- Earned Income Tax Credit payments, $1.95 billion per year
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, $1.04 billion per year
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, $82 million per year
This is a great topic, highlighted by one of our conservative commenters who has been extolling the virtues of low pay work that is subsidized by taxpayers (scroll down to the comments).
In Delaware, they estimate that taxpayers pay $228.4 million (pdf) in Medicaid, SCHIP, EITC, SNAP and TANF payments in order to bridge the gap for fast food workers who aren’t paid fairly or provided insurance. It’s a subsidy, though, a subsidy to these corporations who are immensely profitable and profitable because they can shift a pretty big cost of labor on to the local taxpayers. And it isn’t just the fast food industry, who seem to be the biggest offenders:
Taxpayers should not have to provide any supplemental funds to McDonalds or anyone else to support their workers. Nor can conservatives tell you that these jobs are meant for kids who need the pocket change and the job experience. In the fast food business more than 2/3 of the workers are over the age of 20 and most are the main providers for their families. Which, really, we know, right? No kids are working in McDonalds during the day — when they have school — and McDonalds certainly doesn’t close when the kids aren’t available.
I think I may have posted this some months ago, but California is looking to see if they can recover the money its taxpayers pay to subsidize the low wages paid by Walmarts in the state:
But, at long last and in a move gaining popularity around the nation, the State of California is attempting to say ‘enough’ to Wal-Mart and the other large retailers who are looking to the taxpayers to take on the responsibility for the company’s employees—a responsibility Wal-Mart has long refused to accept.
It’s about time.
Legislation is now making its way through the California legislature—with the support of consumer groups, unions and, interestingly, physicians—that would levy a fine of up to $6,000 on employers like Wal-Mart for every full-time employee that ends up on the state’s Medi-Cal program—the California incarnation of Medicaid.
The amount of the fine is no coincidence.
A report released last week by the Democratic staff of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, estimates that the cost of Wal-Mart’s failure to adequately pay its employees could total about $5,815 per employee each and every year of employment.
Data published by the state of Massachusetts reveal that Walmart has 4,327 employees — approximately one-quarter of its workforce — enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program or one of two other publicly subsidized health insurance programs. Insuring these employees and their dependents costs taxpayers $14.6 million a year. Target has an even larger share — more than one-third of its Massachusetts workforce, or 2,610 people — enrolled.
States should absolutely be in the forefront of capturing these subsidies, especially from the profitable multi-nationals. If you are the Governor of a state trying to get these moneys back, the biggest selling point is that you get to reduce the growth of some of your biggest line items AND you are stopping the cost shifting in order to ensure that you can attract businesses who will pay a living wage. This ought to be a project for progressive Democrats next year here, too. But hey! We have a Congressional conference committee that is looking for a bargain, and recovering taxpayer subsidies from Walmart and Target and the low wage kings seems like just the thing.