Walmart bags 18% of all food stamp outlays for an estimated $14 billion in taxpayer dollars, a Wall Street Journal report finds.
The Journal says retailers and grocers are nervous that their profits will lag as a temporary food stamp benefit boost set to expire Friday will mean food stamp recipients will have $16 billion less in taxpayer-funded benefits to spend over the next three years.
Wal-Mart U.S. Chief Executive Bill Simon, however, claims that price sensitivity advantages the retail giant and that when food stamp enrollments exploded in 2009, Wal-Mart’s market share actually declined.
“Price will become more important,” said Simon. “When price is more important, we’re more relevant.”
Limited government critics, however, point out that companies that rely on taxpayer-funded benefits to boost their bottom lines have few incentives to see government grow smaller; to the contrary, the bigger government grows, the more taxpayer dollars businesses can poach to profit.
In a one-hour Hannity special called the “Business of Food Stamps,” the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) reported that companies like JP Morgan, which handles the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards for numerous states, has raked in at least $560,492,596 since 2004 processing EBT cards. JP Morgan’s Christopher Paton told Bloomberg News that food stamps make the big bank big bucks:
We are the largest processor of food stamps in the country… [the EBTprogram] is a very important business to JP Morgan. It’s an importantbusiness in terms of its size and scale… Right now volumes have gonethrough the roof in the past couple of years or so. The good news fromJP Morgan’s perspective is the infrastructure that we built has beenable to cope with that increase in volume.
Whether companies will maintain such lucrative revenue streams from taxpayer-funded welfare programs, however, remains to be seen. Reform efforts to curb food stamp spending like the one the House GOP passed, that would save taxpayers nearly $40 billion over 10 years, could threaten corporate profits from food stamps.
Either way, the explosion of food stamp enrollments under President Barack Obama has been a boon to corporate interests. In January 2009, 31.9 million Americans were on the food stamp rolls. Today, 47.6 million Americans are on food stamps.