This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," February 22, 2006, that was edited for clarity.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: A capitalist-loving Republican against Wal-Mart (WMT)? Where would you find such a person? Well, you would expect Wal-Mart bashing from union types and liberals, but not one of the former GOP's most trusted former advisers — advisers, like Terry Holt, who says that Wal-Mart is giving capitalism a bad name. He just joined the Wal-Mart Watch team.
Terry, this is a bit of a surprise. Why?
TERRY HOLT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Hi, Neil.
Well, you know, Wal-Mart has its roots in small-town America, in red-state America. But, lately, Wal-Mart has lost its way, for lots of different reasons. Specifically, Wal-Mart is a huge recipient of corporate welfare.
In fact, a couple of years ago, they got $35 million from the federal government to repave their driveway. Now, this is the largest corporation in America, in the world, for retail. And I just wonder if the American taxpayers should be footing the bill for things like that, and also for things like health care.
For tens of thousands of Americans who work at Wal-Mart, the state government and the federal government pick up the tab, because Wal-Mart does not give a health care benefit — an adequate health care benefit. It forces these people on to the public rolls. And it costs me, a Republican, money.
CAVUTO: I understand that. But you could argue that a lot of the workers not covered are not full-time workers. And workers at Wal-Mart, as with a lot of other convenience stores, retail establishments, come and go.
So, is that the fault of a company just being cruel to its workers, or one that just recognizes the financial realities of a shifting work force?
HOLT: Well, in fact Wal-Mart — in documents that have been disclosed to the public, not to Wal-Mart's happiness — has made conscious decisions to prevent people from becoming full-time workers, and keeping them part-time workers, so that they can't even qualify for benefits, forcing them on to the public rolls for an even longer period of time.
And, frankly, you know, Wal-Mart is a highly successful company, but we have very low expectations for it. You know, price is king at Wal-Mart. And all of us have been to Wal-Mart because of price.
But I wonder if most Americans — there's 70 million Americans who go to Wal-Mart — I wonder if they would be surprised to know that their tax dollar is being taken out of their back pocket, even while they are saving money...
CAVUTO: But, Terry, you would argue Wal-Mart is a successful institution, that it has generated a lot of revenue, that it has helped a lot of people, that, for Americans who shop there, it has also meant a big difference in saving a lot of money on everyday items they purchase, right?
HOLT: That's right.
But there are better ways to do this. In fact, you know, Wal-Mart used to make a big deal of buying American. And, in small towns all over America, most of us maybe still think that's true. But I am not sure that most Americans know that 70 percent of Wal-Mart's products are of Chinese origin...
CAVUTO: Yes, but, Terry, you know, not one of the workers I have seen at Wal-Mart has been chained to a cash register or chained to an aisle.
They are working there of their own volition. They seem pretty happy with it. It has provided jobs, where many of them would never have been able to find any. I mean, you seem to vilify a company that has done a lot of good as well.
HOLT: Well, in fact, I am not vilifying the company.
I would like to see the company become a better neighbor, to become a better corporate citizen. You know, Wal-Mart is unique because of its size. It's a huge company. And many people are looking at it as an example of success.
I just don't want that success to result in a corporate culture where we are inspiring people to be the lowest common denominator. We ought to expect more from our companies.
I think that Republicans ought to be in a position to say that a company coming into its community, is doing the community good. But, in fact when Wal-Mart goes into a community, small businesses close; Christian bookstores close.
CAVUTO: All righty. Well, I wish we had more time, Terry, but you argue your point very well. Good having you on.
HOLT: Thanks, Neil.
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