Talk about a “poverty trap”! The phrase was recently used by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisc., to suggest that the nation’s panoply of programs to aid low-income households was keeping them from rising into the middle class.

Wal-Mart’s annual report, issued late last week, puts a different spin on things. Buried within the long list of risk factors disclosed to its shareholders–that is, factors “outside our control” that could materially affect financial performance–are these: “changes in the amount of payments made under the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Plan and other public assistance plans, (and) changes in the eligibility requirements of public assistance plans.”

Wal-Mart followers say this is the first time the company has made a disclosure like that.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

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