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The DC Council is expected to adopt new regulations that would force Wal-Mart to play by different rules than other retailers in the District. The measure would require corporations with $1 billion in sales that operate stores with at least 75,000 square feet of retail space to pay their workers $12.50 per hour -- 52 percent more than the District’s $8.25 per hour minimum wage.
What does this mean? Quite a few things. First off, Wal-Mart will reconsider development plans for at least two, if not three, of its stores that are set to open in DC. The stores were a result of years of negotiations between the DC government and Wal-Mart. Now, DC might remain Wal-Mart-free and the avoidable results could be stark. Without the new stores, DC risks losing out on at least 900 jobs and $7 million in annual revenue for crucial items like school repair, community revitalization, or road construction.
There are also the reactions of other big box stores to consider. While Lowe’s doesn’t have a store in DC, Home Depot and Target each have one location. These corporations would be affected, while other popular retailers, such as Starbucks and Apple, would not be.
I am usually examining the unintended consequences of government action but this is wholly intended and understood by lawmakers. Although the law is not explicitly directed at Wal-Mart, the requirements were developed as a result of political tension between the retailer and labor groups within DC. By requiring Wal-Mart to pay wages beyond what is already required by District and federal laws, the Council has all but forced the company to avoid operating in an area with rules that are detrimental to its business. The Council could claim that Wal-Mart is only looking out for its bottom line (like all businesses do), but it would be ignoring the fact that other smaller businesses in DC are paying their workers at lower wages.
Supporters of the Large Retailer Accountability Act cite:
Some large retailers pay very low wages and do not provide their workers affordable health benefits. Without safeguards, large retailers threaten to erode both living standards for working families in the District, especially given the cost of living in the District. By adopting living wage standards for large retailers, The District can ensure that economic development better meets the community’s need for family-supporting jobs.
Supporters also believe that Wal-Mart’s threat of pulling out of DC is a bluff to avoid paying the higher wages.
[The Act] means most shopping dollars will stay in the suburbs, unemployment will remain in the double-digits in some neighborhoods and underserved communities will continue to have disproportionate access to affordable groceries.
According to Slate’s Matt Yglasias:
… I do think councilmembers should consider starting over again. If they think a higher minimum wage would be good for the city, then they should raise the minimum wage. If they think a $12.50 minimum wage would crate a lot of unemployment, then they should raise the minimum wage but raise it to something less than $12.50—there's a big gap between that and the generally applicable $8.25 wage. A special minimum wage that applies to retail workers but not janitors or restaurant workers and to Walmart but not the Gap doesn't make a ton of sense.
We will see how this drama of jobs and wages plays out.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
As the economy continues to falter, Congress has an excellent opportunity to provide economic relief to families and businesses. Recently, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) reintroduced the Wireless Tax Fairness Act in the Senate. This occurred just weeks after Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) introduced the same bill in the House. This legislation, an earlier version of which was approved by the House in 2011, would ensure that taxes on wireless communications will not increase in any jurisdiction for at least five years. As a recent study indicated, wireless services currently face a higher aggregate tax burden than nearly every other industry. These high taxes stifle job growth in a sector of the economy with proven potential as an engine of prosperity.
Wireless taxes are inherently regressive, which should also concern policymakers. The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that young people as well as those with less financial means shoulder a disproportionate amount of the burden of taxes on telecommunications. Some rely on their wireless device as their sole phone line and means of Internet access, making higher taxes even more disconcerting. In an era when legislators continue to dial in more spending and higher taxes, lawmakers should hang up on all calls for higher taxes and instead pass the Wireless Tax Fairness Act.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Today’s Taxpayer News!
Paul Bedard of theWashington Examiner penned this story on President Obama’s travel habits, aided by NTUF’s recent projection that Obama is on pace to become the most internationally-traveled President.
Former Rep. Doug Ose of California is reportedly considering campaigning for the 7th District House seat, a move which has some fiscal groups wary. Ose proposed a net spending increase of more than $65 billion in 2008 (his last year in office) according to the NTUF BillTally report from that year.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Which First Lady Flies Highest? Michelle vs. Laura
With the attention Michelle Obama has received for her various trips – and they no doubt have cost taxpayers some significant chunks of change – you might be surprised at the results of National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s (NTUF’s) peek into our two most recent First Ladies’ international travelling habits.
Michelle Obama has already travelled 72 days abroad up to this point. Certainly not an insignificant total, and her first term tally of 55 days abroad is more than President Reagan spent abroad in his first term.
Yet, Michelle’s two-term travel record will almost assuredly fail to keep pace with Laura Bush’s record-setting feat.
The former First Lady racked up a two-term total of 212 days abroad. Her second term included 135 days of international travel, which is more time than her husband, George W. Bush, spent abroad during the same time period!
In fact, if you compare Laura Bush to the Presidents, she is currently the third most internationally traveled of that group, behind Bill Clinton and her husband – though President Obama will likely push her back to fourth in a few years.
Michelle Obama's international travel stats:
And Laura Bush's:
There was not enough data to pursue a second-term projection for Michelle Obama at this time. However, more in-depth analysis on First Lady travel will be featured in a future study.
Mrs. Obama's trip log thus far:
Regardless of their political affiliations, the international travel records of First Ladies present a transparency issue for taxpayers that are separate and distinct from those of Presidents. This is especially true as it appears that more and trips are being taken separately from Presidential spouses. For the time being, however, Mrs. Bush’s list of trips will remain in first place.
Note: Compiled from White House, First Lady’s schedule, and media reports. Because this data and information was collected from a variety of sources, from official White House schedules to media reports, exact time of arrival and departure is not always available and day totals are determined according to the best of the information available. Also, it is possible a First Lady took an additional trip that could be considered international that might not be included.
*Includes the number of days she spent on a personal vacation to Spain
**Up until July 3, 2013
***According to various media reports, Michelle Obama and her two daughters spent their spring break in the Bahamas. The Secret Service and the First Lady’s spokesperson refused to provide any details regarding the trip – the number of days they spent there was not confirmed by official sources; however, according to the media, they arrived around March 24 and left on March 29.
**** Unique countries0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
In examining data from National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s (NTUF’s) study of Presidential travel, “Up in the Air”, there are a number of layers to peel back to reveal the complete picture. The latest, perhaps most significant, aspect of the study is analyzing the habits of second term Presidents – the major finding being they drastically increase their time overseas.
The three modern presidents increased the amount they travelled by over 50 percent. This metric is based on the average increase in foreign travel of the other three “modern” two-term Presidents between their two terms. It does not include Dwight Eisenhower who travelled about 300 percent more in his second term, despite spending less days abroad per trip than any other President NTUF analyzed! The difference in era was too significant to include him.
This projection puts President Obama on pace to very narrowly be the most internationally travelled President with potentially 235 days abroad; compared to Bill Clinton’s 233, George W. Bush’s 215, and Ronald Reagan’s 118.
What trips the President actually ends up going on is impossible to predict beyond this year. If he follows Eisenhower, or Clinton’s lead and drastically increases his travel he would become far and away the most internationally traveled President – if he follows a more conservative direction it’s quite possible he could fall well shy of NTUF’s projection, possibly leaving him behind the most travelled First Lady, Laura Bush (212 days abroad).
Another intriguing finding: if former President George H.W. Bush had received a second-term, he would have been projected to spend 256 days travelling overseas; and he would have likely become the most travelled President, and stayed that way.
President Obama’s start to the year does not have him on pace with his projection yet. With mid-term elections coming up, the President may not focus internationally quite as much as expected. If the President simply repeated his travel from this year, he’d end up with around 104 days abroad in his second term. That would drop him below 200 days abroad, well below George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as Laura Bush.
Taxpayers will have to keep a sharp eye on the President’s travel habits, particularly towards the end of his term, to see where he ends up in the record books. Regardless of exactly where that is, the trend in recent years is clear, more international Presidential travel at a significant cost.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Considerations in Criticizing or Praising the Recovery
The Wall Street Journal created this great comparison of the different recessions and resulting recoveries we've been through as an economy. By no means is this a complete picture but indicators like Household Net Worth and Business Investments always need to be considered when addressing government intervention in the economy.
Click on the image to see a larger version.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Today’s Taxpayer News!
The Washington Examiner reported that 35 million people will be pushed into poverty in the United States in the next year due to increased biofuel production, which is required by federal law. Mandating increased use of corn for biofuels means less corn on the market for food use - which in turn causes high food prices that can cripple those already struggling.
The National Review recently featured a piece by Deroy Murdock outlining some of the more expensive (and embarrassing) recent failures of the federal government, including some input from NTU’s Pete Sepp on the IRS scandal.
US News and World Report published a piece Friday by NTU’s Pete Sepp, offering common-sense solutions for cutting the defense budget while still promoting a strong national defense.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
(AUDIO) Speaking of Taxpayers: Independence Day Outrage-cast!
Subscribe to NTU's podcast "Speaking of Taxpayers" via iTunes!
Hope you enjoyed your 4th of July holiday, and this Outrage of the Week highlight show!0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
As this addendum to National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s (NTUF’s) 2013 Study of Presidential Travel is released, President Obama is landing at Andrews Air Force Base and making his way to the White House after an extended trip to the African continent.
The long, near 18 hour, flight back from Tanzania marks the 14th overseas flight the President has taken this year (according to the White House schedule and news reports). These trips rack up costs for taxpayers, and a conservative estimate by NTUF reveals the cost of operating Air Force One internationally this year is now up to at least $15,219,433.
This $15 million-plus price tag is based on the cost per-hour of operating Air Force One alone. It does not include any costs for additional aircraft, staff, refueling, etc.
Estimating the potential costs of additional trips the President has planned for later this year is imprecise. However, applying the median cruise speed of Air Force One to distances for trips to Moscow, Indonesia, and Brunei, we can get an idea of flight times. This would bring the total for President Obama’s 2013 Air Force One costs to over $24 million.
Costs are likely to be higher, not only because our estimated flight times are generously quick, but refueling may be required, and more stops are likely to be added to such significant voyages.
As noted in NTUF’s “Up in the Air” study of Presidential Travel, costs outside of aircraft operation are very difficult to assess. Complete information on staffing, security, food, and more, is unavailable, often due to predictable concerns.
The study revealed President Obama nearly spent as many days abroad as the current single term leader, George H.W. Bush – that, despite focusing for nearly half his term on the longest and most expensive campaign in history.
Taxpayers concerned with transparency can only imagine how large these travel costs truly are, and how far President Obama will travel with no reelection campaign this term.
Air Force 1 cost per flight hour estimate from CRS: $179,750
C-40B cruise speed median: 530MPH
Air Force 1 (VC-25) cruise speed: 575MPH
White House schedule: http://www.whitehouse.gov/schedule/complete/2013-W25
Estimated flight speeds for Boeing C-40B & VC-25: http://www.boeing.com/boeing/defense-space/military/c-40b/
Flight distance: http://www.travelmath.com
Figures are based off of hours devoted to trip from White House schedule multiplied by Cost Per Hour of flying jet. Estimated flight times are based off of distance from travelmath.com and cruise speed of jet.1 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Today’s Taxpayer News!
Fox23 (from Tulsa, OK) has reported that several 4th Circuit federal judges convened an expensive conference at the luxurious Greenbrier resort this past weekend. As NTU’s Pete Sepp put it, “All kinds of posh amenities, everything a federal judge would want to be pampered with are available there.”
Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Dave Camp are heading off across the country on a “tax reform tour.” The tour kicks off in Minneapolis on July 8, with other dates to be announced soon. What do you think the prospects are for this effort leading to a tax overhaul?0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts