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Walmart in Chicago. Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty

If Walmart CEO Doug McMillon's public challenge to Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 turns into reality, it could be a big boon for the retail giant.

What's happening: McMillon issued his call yesterday at Walmart's annual shareholder's meeting, saying the federal rate was "lagging behind." Among the upsides of such a move for Walmart...

  • A higher minimum would put more money in the pockets of low-income consumers — Walmart's customer base — and potentially boost sales.
  • It also could improve the chain's already-substantial financial advantage, since in many small towns it competes with local businesses for workers and market share. In those cases, a higher minimum wage that the few remaining smaller shops can't afford could kill them, leaving the behemoth as the only game in town.

"Publicly declaring support for raising a minimum wage that is well below what Walmart already pays its workers is a cost-free way for Walmart to appear 'worker-friendly' while remaining staunchly anti-union and maintaining extremely coercive management tactics," says David Huyssen, a historian of capitalism at the U.K.'s University of York.

The backdrop: Walmart pays its workers a minimum of $11 an hour, which, while significantly above the federal minimum wage, is lower than what rivals Target ($13) and Amazon ($15) pay.

  • At the company shareholders' meeting, Sen. Bernie Sanders showed up and accused Walmart of paying "starvation" wages.
  • "Walmart has a serious image problem as an exploitative employer, one that Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign is in the midst of highlighting," Huyssen says.

Go deeper

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Donald and Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.