EDITORIAL: A veto for big-store bashing

It’s foolish to chase jobs and abundance to the suburbs

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It’s three weeks and counting since the D.C. Council enacted a Wal-Mart bashing bill, and Mayor Vincent C. Gray is still agonizing over whether to sign it. This is a demonstrated job-killing ordinance, intended to discriminate, and agony or not, the mayor has a duty to veto it.

The ordinance stipulates that companies with annual sales of at least $1 billion a year and whose stores occupy 75,000 square feet or more of floor space must pay a minimum wage of $12.50 per hour. That’s about 50 percent more than smaller firms have to pay, driving up costs for companies such as Wal-Mart, but not for others.

Since it was adopted on an 8-5 vote, Wal-Mart foes would have to flip one of the “no” votes to “yes” to attain the nine votes required for an override. D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat, says that ninth vote won’t be his. “I don’t think you should write bills, or legislation, just for one corporation,” he said on WMAL radio, “even though it will hit other corporations as well.”

“I do think we should raise the … minimum wage in D.C.,” he said, noting that President Obama wants to raise the federal minimum to $9.25 an hour. “Then we should look at possibly $1 further, then tying it to the cost of living.” The councilman said he also wants to “have the largest employers that have part-time workers pay into a ‘Healthy D.C.’ fund to offset the cost of Medicaid and the D.C. [Healthcare] Alliance, which is insurance that taxpayers pay for, for people who are of poorer means.”

The “kill the goose” attitude explains why the District has few big-box stores for a city of its size and affluence. Councilman Vincent B. Orange, at-large Democrat and backer of the Large Retailer Accountability Act, summed up his ignorance of basic economics. “We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers, retailers need us.” The fact that there are no BJ’s Wholesale Clubs, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Toys R Us or Wegmans in the District, says otherwise. It’s a short drive to the suburbs, where the stores are, and if the poorest among us have little means to get there, that’s just an inconvenience the D.C. Council is happy to impose.

If Mr. Gray wants to bring jobs and opportunity to the District, he ought to veto this ordinance.

The Washington Times

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