Sanders Bill Would Tax Big Companies For Workers' Public Assistance

Gladys Abbott
September 9, 2018

Bernie Sanders is firing with both barrels against Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos by introducing a bill which is literally named after him.

Act would impose a 100% tax equal to the amount of federal assistance received by its employees.

The idea is to crack down on "corporate welfare" - where the government is left to pick up the slack for poor paying, big businesses.

Other large companies mentioned as reasons for the bill included Walmart, which "pays its associates wages so low that many of them are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing to survive at a cost to USA taxpayers of an estimated $6.2 billion a year", Sanders' office said. "That is what a rigged economy looks like".

"The American taxpayer should not be subsidizing Jeff Bezos so he can underpay his employees", Sanders tweeted last week. Thousands of Amazon workers have to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing to survive.

James Bloodworth describes similar pressures in his book Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain (which sells for $10 for Kindle on amazon.com).

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Amazon is one of the top employers whose workers receive food stamps. Amazon defended its record and claimed the Sanders presented "misleading and inaccurate" allegations regarding the company's working conditions and wages.

Under the Stop Bezos Act, all companies with over 500 employees-including part-time workers and so-called independent contractors-would be hit with a tax if they don't pay their workers enough to get by without federal assistance.

In August, the senator set up a website for employees to anonymously share their experiences.

The most troubling potential outcome, in Bernstein's opinion, is that the Stop BEZOS Act could further the stigmatization of worker benefits. In video interviews posted on Sanders' Facebook page, workers at several levels of Amazon described highly surveilled work environments, where bathroom breaks are closely monitored and there's extreme pressure to meet goals that may be unattainable.

The proposed legislation was introduced shortly after Amazon became the second company in the U.S.to reach a $1 trillion market cap. "The taxpayers in this country should not be subsidizing a guy who's worth $150 billion, whose wealth is increasing by $260 million every single day", Sanders told TechCrunch in an earlier interview. "Amazon is proud to have created over 130,000 new jobs a year ago alone".

The senator has said the company's median pay is 9 percent less than the industry average at $28,446, and "well below" a livable wage.

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