Boxed in on Jobs

This Kathleen Geier post in the Washington Monthly is good, and her argument is pretty compelling. However, regarding the D.C. big box living wage bill, she writes:

[P]oliticians hate the D.C. living wage bill, because they don’t want to drive Walmart away. The politicians want the photo ops at Walmart openings, where they can boast about bringing “good jobs” — um, well, okay, “jobs,” anyway — into the community.

To be fair, it’s not only about the fear of driving Walmart away. As soon as the bill was passed by the Council, other retailers allegedly began re-evaluating their plans to locate in the District. Isn’t it more accurate to say that politicians are afraid of appearing anti-business in general? In my experience that’s an especially sensitive issue for politicians in D.C., a city that faces tough competition for business from neighboring states Virginia and Maryland. Again, the threats from other retailers may turn out to be bogus—and even if they’re not, the long-term net impact on employment/wages might still by a positive one if this bill were to become law—but this notion that D.C. is “anti-business” is something that District politicians legitimately have to grapple with.

None of which is to deny that it’s a big problem when a Walmart ribbon-cutting ceremony serves as a fig leaf for politicians anywhere who are otherwise doing little to nothing to support good jobs, worker training, etc.