Walmart is on Food Stamps

Citizen Wealth Financial Justice

louisianaBaton Rouge   Despite all of our issues with Walmart, there is at least one situation where the classic line might be truthfully applied that what is “good for Walmart is good for the country,” and that rests on the fact that Walmart is a food stamp addict.  According to the company, 18% of United States food stamp benefits are spent at Walmart.   That’s not chump change.   According to calculations in the Wall Street Journal at means they go “cha-ching” for $18 billion of the $80 billion total USDA expenditure on food stamps.  

            In recent years to offset the terrible pain of the recession the US stimulus program had increased food stamp benefits by 13.6% in 2009 and now this temporary expansion of benefits ended and the impact is huge.  For families it means a 5.4% drop of benefits per month which for a family of four means about $40 per month and over $400 per year.   Some estimates believe such families will have 16 fewer meals per month.   Hitting the poor in their bellies has the collateral damage of also hitting Walmart and other grocery outfits, large and small, right in their pocketbooks, which is also why Walmart and other grocers have spent millions lobbying Congress to not eviscerate the food stamp program.    Given the horrible negotiations taking place now in Congress, there could be yet more cuts in store for hungry families, and that’s a terrible prospect.

            Of course Walmart, being Walmart, can’t even do the right thing without acting like a horse’s pitoutsie.   The US CEO Bill Simon tried to put a coat of corporate paint on this house of hunger by saying the food stamp cuts could be a win for the company given their discounting specialty since its market share went down when benefits expanded in 2008.  Simon added his greedy hopes that “Price will become more important.  When price is more important, we’re more relevant.”

            So I guess as soon as I said it, I have to take it back.   It turns out that it’s “what’s good for Walmart is not what’s good for the country.”   It turns out that even though they are the country’s biggest food stamp recipient, they still believe it’s all about their real corporate motto: “heads I win, tails you lose!”