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2001-08-11
Bentonville, AR. Bush's Subsidy for Wal-Mart

A task force set up by President George Bush says we can't afford to sustain Social Security, yet the federal government is now shoveling tax rebate checks back to middle and upper income families so they can go to stores like Wal-Mart and Target to buy must have items like camcorders and cell phones. That's the word from Wal-Mart stores, which told the Reuters news service this week that shoppers entering their store with Uncle Sam's rebate checks, left having spent around 25% of their check on Wal-Mart items. Not a bad little subsidy for the big box stores. Reuters said customers who cashed U.S.tax rebate checks at Wal-Mart dropped one-quarter of their check before leaving the stores, slightly boosting Wal-Mart's July sales. Wal-Mart reported the data when it released its same-store sales data for July. Wal-Mart announced last month that it would cash customers' income tax rebate checks at no charge, prompting the other retailer wannabes like Target, Home Depot, and Kmart to try and woo the rebaters. Home Depot ran ads urging consumers to spend their rebate checks on conservation products, such as insulation materials and energy-efficient lighting. Wal-Mart said rebate spending bolstered sales in electronics, cameras, prepaid cellular telephones, camcorders, air conditioners, lawn mowers and bicycles. So Boy George's Rebate turned into Lawn Boys! Oh, the marvels of corporate welfare.

What you can do: In essence, the Bush tax rebate amounts to a subsidy for big box retailers and for electronic manufacturers of toys for adults. I'm sure the world needs more cell phones, but is a federal dollar spent at Wal-Mart any more productive than a federal dollar spent to help a homeless family? Low-income families did not get a rebate check because they had little or no tax liability. So the neediest Americans get to read stories about how middle class families took their hot checks in their hands and dumped it in the electronic aisle at Wal-Mart. Social Security retirees, millions of whom also received no rebate, can get phone calls from their children on their new Wal-Mart cell phones, while reading about the impending financial doom of Medicare and Social Security. Instead of investing our tax dollars to write down the federal debt, we are giving billions of dollars away as a pass through to some of the richest, largest corporations in the world. The government could have saved the middle step and just written out a Treasury check to Wal-Mart and Home Depot. It turns out that "supply side" economics refers to keeping a large supply of camcorders and cell phones so American consumers can film their own excesses and call their friends to relate their good fortunes. If this is what we do with rebate checks, then its time to rebate the rebates.










 
 
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