Bernie Sanders introduced a bill today that culminates weeks of feuding between the Vermont senator and Amazon, a company he views as indicative of a “rigged economy” that rewards the rich and harms workers.
The bill—titled the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (Stop BEZOS) Act—would impose a tax on companies with 500 or more employees “equal to the amount of federal benefits received by their low wage workers.” Essentially, this would force large, profitable firms to pay into welfare programs the amount they’re currently getting for free from the federal government.
Supporting the necessity for such legislation, Sanders cited familiar research from the Institute of Local Self-Reliance, reporting about the prevalence of Amazon workers enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, as well as anecdotes shared by current and former Amazon workers to Sanders’s own website.
The Stop BEZOS Act is supported by California Representative Ro Khanna, who last year introduced similar legislation, the Corporate Responsibility and Taxpayer Protection Act. While the proposed legislation takes its name and impetus from the massive disparity between Jeff Bezos’s extraordinary wealth and the wages paid to his workers, the Stop BEZOS Act is a shot across the bow at other companies seen as abusing social welfare programs. Sanders singled out out the Waltons, the family which own Amazon’s chief rival Walmart.
(Disclosure: I made a small donation to Khanna’s campaign in 2014)
While the bill does not address the economic incentives state and local governments are happy to lavish on Amazon and similar companies, Sanders estimates that “if employers in this country simply paid workers a living wage, taxpayers would save about $150 billion a year in federal assistance programs, and millions of workers would live in dignity and security.”
Read the full text of the bill below:
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This article erroneously stated a relationship between the Waltons and Betsy Devos. It has been amended and we regret the error.