Obama's next targets: Walmart, Best Buy?

Wage scheme devastated businesses, aided economic collapse

Published: 38 mins ago
by Aaron Klein

A far-left think tank founded with input from President Obama is pushing a plan for private retail stores such as Walmart to create a “new wage floor” that hikes workers’ wages by at least 27 percent to $12.25 per hour.

The scheme is outlined in a new study published by Demos, a longtime partner of the disgraced ACORN activist group.

Unmentioned in the Demos study is that the “new wage floor” is modeled after another Demos plan for a “living wage” that devastated business when it was attempted in some cities in the 1990s as a pet project of ACORN.

According to Demos’ own website, while Obama was a state senator in 1999, he served on the working group that founded Demos.

WND previously reported Demos may have been instrumental in the Obama administration’s hiring of Van Jones, the former White House “green jobs” adviser who resigned after it was exposed he founded a communist revolutionary organization and called for “resistance” against the U.S. government. Jones is now a Demos scholar.

Last month, Demos released a 15-page research paper titled “Retail’s Hidden Potential: How Raising Wages Would Benefit Workers, the Industry and the Overall Economy.”

The extensive paper pointed how out more than 15 million people work in the private retail sector.

“Given the vital role retail plays in our economy, the question of whether employees in the sector are compensated at a level that promotes American prosperity is of national importance,” Demos argued.

The study provides a chart listing the country’s biggest retailers, including Walmart, Target, Kroger, Home Depot, Walgreens, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Safeway and Macy’s.

The plan urges the enactment of a “new wage floor” for the lowest-paid private retail workers equivalent to $25,000 per year – or $12.25 per hour – for a full-time, year-round retail worker at the nation’s largest retail companies, identified as those employing at least 1,000 workers.

“For the typical worker earning less than this threshold, the new floor would mean a 27 percent pay raise,” notes the study.

Demos claims the “new wage floor” would lift 700,000 Americans out of poverty, and more than 1.5 million retail workers and their families would move up from in or near poverty.

The think tank posits the pay hike would create 100,000 or more new jobs, thus stimulating the economy. It surmises the pay increase would cost consumers “just cents more per shopping trip on average.”

The study, however, does not mention that the template for the “new wage floor” is a failed Demos plan urging a “living wage.”

The White House itself indicated support for the “living wage” concept in documents obtained by the Associated Press in February 2010. They showed the Obama administration was considering a new policy that would give an advantage in bids for billions in government contracts to companies that pay workers “living wages” and offer generous benefits.

Previous Demos papers have prescribed the implementation of a higher minimum wage that would “raise the floor for all employees” nationwide.

Non-wage benefits such as “sick leave, paid family leave and more control over their work schedules” would be included.

One recent Demos report is titled “Help Wanted: American Needs a Better Jobs Plan” by David Callahan and Tamara Draut, Demos’ co-founder and vice president, respectively.

The Demos executives recommend that government “can and should play a vigorous role in encouraging employers to create good jobs – perhaps by providing tax incentives that require employers to pay a living wage.”

Such a “living wage” is found in the ideology of Karl Marx, author of the 1848 “Communist Manifesto.”

In his book on the living wage, Donald R. Stabile, professor of economics at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, wrote, “Marx believed that only under communism could he find support for his ultimate goal of a living wage, ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.’”

A “living wage” was implemented in 80 cities from the mid-1990s to 2003, sometimes spearheaded by ACORN.

In the winter 2003 issue of City Journal, Manhattan Institute scholar Steve Malanga wrote that for more than a decade, a “savvy left-wing political movement, supported by radical economic groups, liberal foundations and urban activists” had lobbied for a “government-guaranteed ‘living wage’”

Malanga notes the living wage movement got its start in mid-1990s Baltimore, when a coalition of left-leaning church leaders, unionists and community activists largely led by ACORN began to push for a “social compact” that included a hike in the minimum wage to $6.10 – 43 percent above the federal minimum wage at the time – for service workers in hotels and other businesses in the city’s redeveloped Inner Harbor, a prime tourist area.

Baltimore’s then-mayor Kurt Schmoke eventually signed a compromise bill that guaranteed the new $6.10 minimum for workers at any companies contracting with the city. Supporters hailed the increase as a costless victory for low-income workers.

But Baltimore’s economy soon crashed, with 58,000 jobs disappearing, even as the rest of Maryland added 120,000 jobs and other cities across the country prospered.

“The living wage bill was just one expression of a fiercely anti-business climate that helped precipitate Baltimore’s economic collapse,” wrote Malanga.

Another locale that enacted a living wage bill, soon to see its economy burn, was Milwaukee County in Wisconsin, which passed a law increasing the minimum wage only for city-contracted janitors and security guards to $6.25 an hour.

That law was urged on by ACORN and the socialist New Party, which was also instrumental in lobby efforts in Baltimore. The living wage campaign was a main platform of the socialist New Party.

In a controversy never fully addressed by Obama, WND previously reported the New Party’s own newsletters documented Obama was a member of the party.

The New Party sought to elect members to public office with the aim of moving the Democratic Party far leftward to ultimately form a new political party with a socialist agenda.

The New Party, established in 1992, took advantage of what was known as electoral “fusion,” which enabled candidates to run on two tickets simultaneously, attracting voters from both parties. But the New Party went defunct in 1998, one year after fusion was halted by the Supreme Court.

The New Party worked closely with ACORN to promote its candidates.

With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott

Obama’s next targets: Walmart, Best Buy?