Wal-Mart is addicted to welfare

NATIONAL — Wal-Mart’s rapid expansion in the United States has been fueled by extensive use of public money.

The world’s largest privately owned corporation received more than $1.2 billion in tax breaks, free land, infrastructure assistance, low-cost financing and outright grants from state and local governments around the country.

In addition, taxpayers indirectly subsidize the company by paying the health care costs of Wal-Mart employees who don’t receive insurance coverage on the job and instead turn to public programs such as Medicaid.

Good Jobs First’s website compiled information on Wal-Mart’s “double-dipping” and found three deals worth a total of about $1.7 million in New Jersey.

In essense, Wal-Mart relies on taxpayers to finance its growth because consumers are often paying twice: once at the cash register and again when they pay taxes.

A 2005 analysis of NJ FamilyCare enrollment data showed that the state program is very widely used by the families of large employers, including Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club, Wakefern Food Corp/ShopRite, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., Inc. (A&P), and Home Depot.

Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club, the eighth largest employer in New Jersey, had more workers and their family members in the state health program than any other employer.

FamilyCare might be expected to meet the needs of self-employed workers and those who work at companies too small to afford health coverage

Good Jobs First determined that in 16 states, Wal-Mart — which had record profits of $17 billion last year, up from $10 billion in profits in 2004 — was at or near the top in terms of the number of employees and employees’ family members participating in state health insurance programs.

The 500 largest US companies scored near-record profits and retailer Wal-Mart replaced ExxonMobil as the biggest revenue maker on Fortune magazine’s annual list.

When a Wal-Mart executive boasted at a Goldman Sachs investor conference in 2013 that 475,000 of the company’s U.S. store associates make more than $25,000 — he inadvertently revealed that a large portion of its 1.4 million American workers make less.

Payscale, a salary information website, estimates that Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke’s 2012 pay of $23.2 million was 1,034 times more than the company’s average worker.

Wal-Mart paid its top executives and board members $66.7 million last year, but less than $31 billion to the other 1.4 million U.S. workers.

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