Walmart Says Its Element TVs Are “Assembled In USA” – But They Aren’t

Dave Johnson

Walmart runs commercials about how great they are for American workers, in part because they sell TVs manufactured by Element Electronics that are supposedly “Assembled in the USA.” (Wait … isn’t the “Walmart model” of selling cheap goods from China the reason everyone is so desperate for American-made goods?)

This month the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) accused Element of “Red, White & Blue Washing” and filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Element. AAM says that Element’s assembly process violates the FTC’s standards for claiming that a product is “assembled in the U.S.A.” The FTC rules say a product must undergo a “substantial transformation” on U.S. soil before this claim can be made. AAM is asking the FTC to make Element stop claiming that its televisions are “Assembled in the USA.”

At Think Progress, Alan Pyke explains in a comprehensive report (please click through), Walmart’s ‘Made In USA’ Televisions Are Allegedly Made In China:

Instead, the complaint alleges, the Chinese-made TVs arrive to Element’s South Carolina assembly line in boxes adorned with a waving American flag and the slogan “America Matters” on the front and the phrase “assembled in the USA” on top. Element’s employees unscrew a plastic panel, install a Chinese-made motherboard, close the panel, and return the TVs to their patriotic packaging so that they can be shipped out to Walmart, Target, Meijer, Sam’s Club, and QVC. That depiction of Element’s assembly process comes from a July article in the Wall Street Journal.

There is a lot about Element in that report, including the tibit, “Prior to heading up Element, company president Michael O’Shaughnessy was involved in another complicated, potentially scandalous business enterprise.”

How We Got Here

At the Steelworkers Blog, Molly McGrath and Brad Markell dig into how we got to the point where so many people crave “American-made” goods, in “How Walmart Destroyed U.S. Manufacturing,” pointing out that “the company has tried to evade the common sense of real, hardworking Americans by helping them forget Walmart was responsible for our manufacturing sector’s demise in the first place.”

Thew report details:

1. Walmart drove these jobs away in the first place.

2. Walmart is the nation’s largest importer.

3. Wages are just too low.

4. Taxpayers are on the hook for these bad jobs.

5. We love “Made in America,” and Walmart knows you will pay more for it.

But Wait, There’s More

Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) just released a “New Report Reveals that Walmart Avoids Billions in U.S. Taxes.” According to ATF “Walmart uses tax breaks to dodge a whopping $1 billion annually, on average, in federal taxes. It also shows how Walmart is working behind the scenes to help lower the U.S. corporate tax rate to 25%, which would allow Walmart to cut its tax bill on average another $720 million a year.”

The report is outlined at How Walmart is Dodging Billions in Taxes: And Scheming to Avoid Billions More. It says, “reveals that the company currently holds $21.4 billion in profits offshore, where those earnings are exempt from federal taxes until they are brought back to the United States – which may never occur.” It also says, “Walmart lobbies heavily on Capitol Hill to gain influence over the legislative process, employing 74 lobbyists and spending $32.6 million lobbying (tax issues being its top lobbying priority) over the past five years.”

You can click straight through to the full PDF report here: How Walmart is Dodging Billions in Taxes: And Scheming to Avoid Billions More.

P.S.: There is a solution to this problem of companies hoarding cash outside the U.S. to avoid taxes. There is approximately $2 trillion in profits already made and ready to be taxed — all being held outside the US, usually in tax shelters. Give Americans A $2,000 Check From “Deferred” Corporate Taxes. If we did that there would be $215 billion left over to use to fix up our infrastructure. Not to mention the other $1.3 trillion of that cash hoard that would come back to our economy.

Get updates in your inbox