Bernie Sanders introduced a bill today that would impose a tax on companies with 500 or more employees that would be “equal to the amount of federal benefits received by their low wage workers” as a means to combat the “rigged economy” currently abused by companies like Amazon, which harms workers and rewards the rich.
The proposed bill, which is named the “Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (Stop BEZOS) Act,” would require large and profitable firms to pay into welfare programs according to the amount they are currently receiving for free from the federal government.
Sanders has cited research from the Institute of Local Self-Reliance in favor of the bill, which highlighted Amazon workers enrolling in the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Anecdotes shared by current and former Amazon employees corroborate these findings.
Although the bill does not directly address the economic incentives local and state governments supply to 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.”
The proposed legislation has singled out Jeff Bezos, the chief executive officer of Amazon, and the impetus for the bill’s name, alongside the Waltons, who own Walmart. Providing the disparity prevalent between Bezos’ accumulated wealth and the wages paid to his workers, the bill aims to underline the manner in which companies may be abusing social welfare programs.