Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill Targeting Jeff Bezos

Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill Targeting Jeff Bezos

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Wednesday introduced a Senate bill - the "Stop BEZOS Act" - that would require large employers such as Amazon.com and Walmart to pay the government for food stamps, public housing, Medicaid and other federal assistance received by their workers.

Sanders on Wednesday introduced the the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act, or Stop BEZOS Act, a shot at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

But Jared Bernstein, the former chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden and a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says the bill could actually end up hurting the very workers it is trying to help.

In May, Sanders made comments regarding Bezos' wealth and Amazon's treatment of its warehouse workers, calling the scenario a sign of "a rigged economy."

In addition to the public spat between Sanders and Amazon, the senator names other large US corporations, including McDonalds, Walmart and American Airlines, as targets of his bill.

Sanders said his bill would place a 100% tax on the government benefits these workers receive if they work for a company with more than 500 employees. Low wages at McDonald's alone cost the federal government and USA taxpayers over $1.2 billion a year, while 52% of all fast food workers rely upon public assistance programs to survive. The median United States salary for full-time Amazon employees is $34,123, it says. The only publicly-traded US company valued higher is Apple, with a market cap of $1.1 trillion. Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, introduced a House version of the same bill named the Corporate Responsibility and Taxpayer Protection Act. The company has said that it offers assistance like disability insurance, health insurance, and retirement savings plan to its employees. The Vermont senator has previously railed against the way Amazon treats its workers. "Walmart, just like Amazon, pays its workers' wages that are so inadequate that many of them are forced to depend upon public assistance programs in order to survive".

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"Throughout the year on average, almost 90 percent of associates across the company's US fulfillment network are regular employees who receive full benefits", Lynch writes in an email.

The bill comes a week after Amazon responded to Sanders' constant barrage of income inequality attacks on the online retailer.

"Workers who receive these benefits would thus become thousands of dollars more expensive to employ than other workers who are paid the same wage but don't qualify for these benefits", Greenstein said.

Plus, the legislation likely wouldn't do much to raise wages, the center said.

Sanders' legislation has also raised concerns with at least one prominent left-leaning organization.

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