The Act passed as Wal-Mart was building three new stores in D.C. and planning an additional three. “The LRAA would clearly inject unforeseen costs into the equation that would create an uneven playing field and challenge the fiscal health of our planned D.C. stores,” the company’s regional general manager warned in The Washington Post before the vote. “Wal-Mart will not pursue stores at Skyland, Capitol Gateway or New York Avenue if the LRAA is passed.”
If the planned stores are indeed shelved, the city would lose hundreds of potential jobs along with the downward price pressure that having a Wal-Mart nearby creates. And because the planned stores are in low-income areas, it’s the poor who would be harmed the most if they’re not built.
Some don’t see it that way, though. “The question here is a living wage; it’s not whether Wal-Mart comes or stays,” council member Vincent Orange said before the vote. Of course, a “living wage” is a fluid concept in a city that’s famously filled, especially this time of year, with unpaid and underpaid interns.
Wal-Mart will keep on making money, with or without any presence in the District. Likewise, the city council will continue to pass laws. It’s D.C. residents who will suffer. “Something is always better than nothing, then work your way up,” city resident Kevin Brown told The Washington Post about opportunities at the proposed Skyland location. “People are looking forward to that Wal-Mart, they really are.” Cronyism means they can look forward to higher prices and lower wages, instead.