The Large Retailer Accountability Act aka "Wal-Mart Bill" is likely dead following a veto on Thursday from Washington D.C.'s Mayor Vincent C. Gray. The bill would have required large retailers like Wal-Mart to pay a 50% premium on the $8.25 minimum wage in Washington, D.C. Gray recognized the damage a drastic wage increase would have on job opportunities and economic development in the area. He made the right choice by rejecting class warfare. D.C. should now enact a "livable tax climate" to help those in need.
This legislation was designed to force large retailers to raise the minimum wage to $12.50, which is $4.25 more than it currently is in city. The Council of the District of Columbia approved the bill by a vote of 8-5 in July. Despite threats from Wal-Mart that that the corporation would be unable to build three of its six planned stores in the D.C. area, the vote remained unchanged. According to Gray's official Twitter account, "This bill did not represent a choice between low-wage jobs and better jobs; it represented a choice between jobs and no jobs." The negative effect "would be much further-reaching than just dissuading Wal-Mart from opening more stores." There will be a veto override vote on Tuesday, but in order to pass it would need to pick up one more supporter, which at this point seems unlikely.
By refusing to treat Wal-Mart differently than other companies, Gray has rejected a class warfare ideology that runs rampant within his political party. Each and every business should compete under the same rules. Perhaps Gray took a look at The Tax Foundation's 2013 State Business Tax Climate Study and saw that Washington, D.C. came in 44th overall. Or perhaps he saw the Council for Community and Economic Research study on the cost of living index where Washington, D.C. is listed as 9th most expensive city to live in the United States. This would be the perfect time to endorse a livable tax climate in the nation's capital.
In another study, the Tax Foundation ranks Washington, D.C. as the fourth worst state and local tax burden in the nation. The current tax climate is pricing jobs and the citizens out of our nation's capital. The answer isn't more regulation, and Gray is right for realizing that. If D.C. would cut the taxes on individuals, people would have more money to spend. If the city becomes more competitive with low-tax states, more industries would come to the area. More competition would drive down the price of goods, and the citizens would have more money in their pockets.
Right now, D.C. remains uncompetitive and unfriendly for people and businesses alike. I would hope that this veto ensures a fair playing field for competitors, and the beginning of a livable tax climate in our nation's capital.