Walmart, the largest private employer in the world, just announced an astounding package of new benefits for its employees. Bonuses for employees, minimum pay raises to $11 per hour, paid maternity leave, $5,000 in adoption expense benefits and more. Why now? Walmart says it’s due to the new tax law. Ditto for the approximately 20 other companies that are handing out bonuses (naturally, the New York Times says it’s a publicity stunt). Do the employees know these bonuses and other benefits are due to President Trump’s leadership? If so, will they remember in November 2020?
If someone told me a few years ago that Walmart — Walmart! — would be making these changes, I would have laughed. Its culture, going back to founder Sam Walton, involves driving down prices for consumers. Low pay for employees was part of that culture.
But now, with the tax bill, Walmart clearly believes it can improve its employee benefit packages and keep its low-price culture.
Further, Walmart appears to be taking steps to improve employee retention. For example, the size of the bonuses is tied to years of service.
What about the other companies that are paying or will be paying bonuses? It’s not a gimmick.
The tax bill frees up capital (corporate money) and firms are passing part of their freed-up monies to their employees.
Have these firms found a new share-the-wealth philosophy? No, because the firms are paying bonuses to gain a benefit — namely, employee retention. Positive free media for the firms is icing on the cake; something that can lead to ease in attracting new hires later.
The big political question remains: Will those thousands of employees remember their 2018 bonuses and pay raises in the November 2020 election?
Do they realize how, under a Hillary Clinton presidency, none of this would be happening?
President Hillary would have used her administrative powers to needle and prod firms into making small changes on the margin (absent legislation, that’s all she could have done). However, she couldn’t mandate the widespread bonuses and pay raises we’re seeing today. That’s real money in people’s pockets.
Taking a step back, the tax bill, and its benefits flowing to employees is a classic example of Republican versus Democrat philosophy. Republicans believe giving private enterprise room to grow is the best way to prosperity. Democrats believe laws and rules from D.C. are the better way.
For folks receiving those $1,000 bonus checks, the answer is obvious. But will it be just a distant memory when they enter the voting booth in November 2020?
That’s up to President Trump.
Joanne Butler is a graduate of the Kennedy School at Harvard, was a professional staff member (Republican) at the House Ways and Means Committee, and served in President George W. Bush’s administration. The Ghanaian poet, Kwesi Brew, has described her as ‘’vibrant.’
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.