Barack Obama seems to have found a very unlikely and surprising ally during his two-term presidency, Walmart.
As first reported by Bloomberg, the massive big-box retailer has been one of the strongest, most outspoken supporters of more than a dozen of the president’s initiatives trough the years, everything from the implementation of Obamacare to climate change.
Bloomberg noted that Obama and Walmart seem to have a strong partnership when it comes to topics centered around health care and climate change. Obama, who was once a very outspoken critic of Walmart, visited a Walmart location in Mountain View, California, to tout the store’s use of renewable energy in 2014.
“It only makes sense for the president to be willing to strike a partnership with the nation’s largest retailer,” Dwight Hill, a partner with the retail consultancy McMillanDoolittle, told Bloomberg. “And Walmart has made more strides of late to try to be more transparent about worker pay and benefits. They have certainly seen the light.”
Obama’s views on Walmart seemed to have softened in 2009 after the retailer publicly released a letter stating its support for a requirement that employers offer health insurance to workers, one of the key components of the Affordable Care Act, which many at the time viewed as a crucial acceptance of the law by big business, while Republicans claimed the bill would actually harm businesses and jobs.
For Walmart, coming out in favor of the signature act of Obama’s presidency was a way for the retail giant to combat much of the criticism that it provided poor or no health insurance benefits to its more than 1 million workers.
“Obamacare is great for Walmart workers; it was a huge transfer of wealth,” Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who wrote a book on Walmart, told Bloomberg. “The pressure is off Walmart to provide better health insurance to its own employees. If you’re a single mom and work at Walmart, you now qualify for Medicaid.”