Sen. Bernie Sanders Targets Amazon, Walmart With Stop BEZOS Bill Targeting Worker Pay

CBS News

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders filed a bill today targeting Amazon, Walmart and other big companies whose workers rely on public assistance programs.

The Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS) Act would impose a 100% tax equal to the amount of federal assistance received by its employees. So, if an Amazon employee collects $2,000 worth of food assistance, the company, which just crossed $1 trillion in valuation, would be taxed at $2,000 to cover the cost.

“We believe that the government has a moral responsibility to provide for the vulnerable – the children, the elderly, the sick and the disabled,” Sanders said in a statement. “But we do not believe that taxpayers should have to expend huge sums of money subsidizing profitable corporations owned by some of the wealthiest people in this country.”

Sanders has been hammering on Amazon as the poster child of corporate welfare. The Senator claims thousands of Amazon workers rely on food stamps because their wages are so low. Sanders urged Amazon employees to share stories about their working conditions.

Amazon called Sanders charges “inaccurate and misleading” in a response posted last week. It said that Sanders’ references to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients are misleading, because they include people who only worked for Amazon for a short period of time and/or chose to work part-time — both of these groups would qualify for federal assistance. In the U.S., Amazon says the average hourly wage for a full-time associate working in fulfillment centers exceeds $15 an hour, not including overtime.

“We have been in regular contact with his office and have offered several opportunities for Senator Sanders and his team to tour one of our fulfillment centers (FCs). To date he has still not seen an FC for himself,” Amazon said. “Instead, Senator Sanders continues to spread misleading statements about pay and benefits. Amazon is proud to have created over 130,000 new jobs last year alone.”

Amazon isn’t the only company with more than 500 employees that Sanders singled out for criticism.

Walmart associates similarly are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing to survive, at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of an estimated $6.2 billion a year, Sanders said.. Low wages at McDonald’s alone cost the federal government and U.S. taxpayers over $1.2 billion a year, while 52% of all fast food workers rely upon public assistance programs to survive.

It’s unclear whether the bill stands any chance of becoming a law, since traditionally pro-business Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House. But perhaps it will find support from President Trump, who has a long-running feud with both Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos.

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