Taxpayers subsidize poverty wages for business titans, GAO finds

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More than 10 million Americans working full-time for companies like Walmart, McDonald’s, Amazon and FedEx receive wages so low that they qualify for food stamps and Medicaid, according to a report released this week by the Government Accountability Office.

The report found that 5.7 million Medicaid enrollees and 4.7 million Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients who worked full-time for 50 or more weeks in 2018 earned wages so low that they qualified for these federal benefits.

“At a time when huge corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s are making billions in profits and giving their CEOs tens of millions of dollars a year, they’re relying on corporate welfare from the federal government by paying their workers starvation wages,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who commissioned the report.

GAO sent questionnaires to state Medicaid and SNAP agencies and analyzed data from 15 such agencies across 11 states. Each agency reported the 25 most common employers of Medicaid enrollees and SNAP recipients. Among the 15 agencies, Walmart was in the top four employers of program beneficiaries in each and every one. McDonald’s was a top-five employer of employees receiving federal benefits in 13 of the 15 agencies.

GAO’s analysis across the states it examined reveals that multibillion-dollar firms employed tens of thousands of workers at wages so low, taxpayers effectively provided nutrition support and health insurance that would be unnecessary if they paid living wages.

Notoriously low-paying and dangerous dollar-store chains also appeared throughout these lists, with Dollar Tree ranking among the top 15 largest employers of employees receiving benefits in all 15 agencies, and Dollar General among the top 10 in nine different agencies.

“U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize some of the largest and most profitable corporations in America,” Sanders said. “It is time for the owners of Walmart, McDonald’s and other large corporations to get off of welfare and pay their workers a living wage. No one in this country should live in poverty. No one should go hungry. No one should be unable to get the medical care they need. It is long past time to increase the federal minimum wage from a starvation wage of $7.25 an hour to $15, and guarantee health care to all Americans as a human right.”

Story by Chris Graham


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