Big Employers Have to Offer Health Care? Swiss America President Weighs in

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," June 30, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALEXIS GLICK, GUEST HOST: Did Wal-Mart just hand President Obama a big helping hand in health care reform? What in the world is going on at Wal-Mart?

The world's largest retailer just embracing the president's health care plan and teaming up with a union to do it. Wal-Mart now saying it favors President Obama's call for requiring all large employers to offer health care to their workers.

Craig Smith calls this a job-killer. He is president and CEO of Swiss America.

I'm — I'm sort of speechless. I couldn't believe it. I was on air live today when the news came out. Why would Wal-Mart do this?

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CRAIG SMITH, CEO, SWISS AMERICA TRADING CORPORATION: Alexis, I'm speechless, too. You and I — you and I are in synch with this.

When I heard the news, I scratched my head. Who in their right mind raises increased costs in their business during a time of a recession? This is an absolute jobs-killer? And I would like to look at the language in that letter that Wal-Mart sent to the administration and the congressional leaders, because it said that they are for employer-mandated insurance, if — or, I should say, which is fair and broad in its coverage.

The way Mr. Obama is suggesting he's going to do it is not fair and it's not broad. So, I doubt you're going to see Wal-Mart have this same position when they see the final bill.

GLICK: You know, it's so interesting, Craig, because I think people need to be aware the president of the SEIU represents a million union workers in this country, along with John Podesta, who worked on the president's transition team, signed this as well.

Interesting, coming from a company, the largest private employer in the country, who has actually been criticized in the past for not providing the right benefits or expensive benefits to its employees.

SMITH: That's a great point.

And — and let's think this through, Alexis. I mean, you're a business — you're — you know business as well as anybody. How in the world does an employer that has 1.4 million employees, of which 2.5 percent are currently on Medicaid — they get Medicaid — how can you put those 35,000 employees on insurance and not have your costs go up? It's impossible.

Now, maybe Wal-Mart has done very well as a direct result of the slowdown in the economy and more people are looking for bargains. But I can assure you, other large corporations are hanging on by a thread. And if they have increased costs, they are going to start cutting jobs. This is a jobs-killer. I don't care how you out — you weight it out. It's going to hurt employment.

GLICK: Yes. Craig...

SMITH: And we can't afford to lose jobs now, Alexis.

GLICK: Yes, Craig, look, that is a critical point here.

You know, everybody agrees we have got to do something on health care. The danger here is that cost-cutting initiatives have saved a lot of jobs. And if we do something like this, the risk is that people may need to get laid off in order to afford these rising costs.

What about the families themselves?

SMITH: Well, you are absolutely right.

Think about this. As a business — look, I am not a politician. I am a businessman. Any businessman will tell you that his biggest bang for his buck in cost-cutting is employees, because you get rid of the salary, you get rid of the benefits, et cetera, et cetera.

In 30 years I have been in business, I have never gone through layoffs. I'm grateful for that. But most companies will tell you, that is where they can get their biggest cost savings.

I can assure you, if they are mandated to pay higher costs for health insurance, you're going to see them cutting jobs. And, in the case of Wal-Mart, they're going to take those increased costs, increase their prices to the public, and what you said in the last segment. It will be a tax, a hidden tax, on the middle class, as they pay more at Wal-Mart for goods and services.

This is a horrible bill. It's going to cost us jobs. And we should stop it instantly. We can't afford to lose one more job, Alexis.

GLICK: Yes, this is — this is pressing.

Craig Smith, thanks so much. We appreciate you joining us.

SMITH: Good to be with you.

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