Wal-Mart Backs Mandatory Health Bennies

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By the way, the Wall Street Journal online is free today, so you can read their story on Wal-Mart endorsing the idea of mandatory employer health coverage for large employers.

Read it now, because tomorrow it may be back behind a firewall :-(

Here's the best line from the story:

The National Retail Federation, the industry's main lobby, said it was "flabbergasted" by Wal-Mart's move. "We have been one of the foremost opponents to employer mandate," said Neil Trautwein, vice president with the Washington-based trade group. "We are surprised and disappointed by Wal-Mart's choice to embrace an employer mandate in exchange for a promise of cost savings."

We are kind of flabbergasted too, and want to know what the spin is all about. Like. now that Wal-Mart is Idaho's No. 2 largest employer, it would be huge if they offered decent health care to workers. Adam Cotterell at Boise State Radio did that story above and this one too, about Wal-Mart's "commitment" to Idaho, including purchasing local produce.

C'mon. The Department of Ag told Cotterell that Wally is the biggest buyer of Idaho produce, but then he can't find any at the Garden City store.

But back to health care, which Wal-Mart does not now provide, why back employer mandates?

As the White House and Congress began floating proposals, Wal-Mart felt it needed to shape the debate, said Leslie Dach, Wal-Mart's executive vice president of corporate affairs and government relations.

"As a company, we believe the present health-care system is unsustainable and making the country's businesses less competitive in the global economy," said Mr. Dach, who delivered the letter Tuesday to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Mr. Dach is a former adviser to Democratic politicians.

So, they could cover their people cheaply, like they do everything else, and distract us from a real, national solution to health coverage by changing the debate.

Or maybe they should just sponsor the WSJ Web site to keep it free.