When is increasing pay for hourly workers politically suspect? When are earmarks considered pork? When they are encouragedby Donald Trump, at least at the New York Times.
Walmart can do no right in the eyes of the liberal paper, and hasn’t for a long time (with reporter Michael Barbaro having had a particularly long-standing animus toward the company). Friday’s Business Day fronted Michael Corkery’s story “Walmart To Increase Starting Pay.” But Corkery managed to turn even the liberal-pleasing move against the despised company:
Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, waded into the bumpy waters of partisan politics on Thursday, announcing that it will use some of its savings under the new tax bill to provide wage increases, bonuses and expanded benefits to its hourly workers.
The giant retailer, which faces stiff competition for qualified workers in a tight labor market and pressure from unions to increase wages, said it would raise its minimum starting wage to $11 an hour, from $9. It will also expand maternity and family leave benefits, and give bonuses of up to $1,000 to eligible employees.
The fiends! Corkery continued to dither away:
By tying its pay increases to the tax break it expects to receive, as other large companies have done in recent weeks, Walmart provided support for claims by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress that the new tax law will benefit not just the wealthy but also working-class Americans.
But within hours, Walmart had undercut its triumphal message when news leaked that it was closing 63 of its Sam’s Club stores. Sam’s Club, a retail chain offering memberships, was soon trending on Twitter, and labor groups and Senate Democrats seized on the news to question Walmart’s motives and criticize the tax bill as failing to protect low-wage workers.
Corkery again blamed Walmart for boosting its workers:
.... By citing the new tax plan as an impetus for better wages and benefits, the retailer was bound to become a lightning rod in a fiercely ideological debate.
Thursday’s front page featured Alan Rappeport’s “Trump’s Idea for Unclogging Congress: Pork.” He was snarky about Trump’s off-the-cuff suggestion, during an unusual live White House session with members of Congress, that bringing back targeted “earmark” spending in Congress could smooth the path of legislation:
Remember the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere”? The Montana Sheep Institute or the now-shuttered North Carolina teapot hall of fame?
Congress years ago eliminated funding for these types of pet projects, known as earmarks, after they became derided as government boondoggles, largess and a pathway to corruption.
President Trump now wants to bring them back.
That wasn’t exactly the tone The Times took when then-reporter A.G. Sulzberger (now the publisher of The New York Times) in November 2010 in "Defenders of Earmarks Point to Urgent Needs That Would Not Be Met." The Times wasn't dismissing it as "pork" then. The Times also editorialized against earmark reform ("The Empty Earmarks Pledge"), and reporters David Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse dismissed the importance of banning earmarks, an argument favorable to the perpetually big-spending Democratic caucus.