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FOCUS: Bernie Sanders Introduces 'Stop BEZOS Act' in the Senate
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49064"><span class="small">Abha Bhattarai, The Washington Post</span></a>   
Wednesday, 05 September 2018 10:53

Bhattarai writes: "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."

Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Greg Nash/Getty Images)
Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Greg Nash/Getty Images)


Bernie Sanders Introduces 'Stop BEZOS Act' in the Senate

By Abha Bhattarai, The Washington Post

05 September 18

 

en. 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.

The bill's name is a dig at Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos and stands for “Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act.” It would establish a 100 percent tax on government benefits received by workers at companies with at least 500 employees, the former presidential candidate said on Wednesday.

"In other words, the taxpayers of this country would no longer be subsidizing the wealthiest people in this country who are paying their workers inadequate wages," Sanders said at a news conference announcing the bill. "Despite low unemployment, we end up having tens of millions of Americans working at wages that are just so low that they can't adequately take care of their families."

The proposed legislation comes one day after Amazon reached $1 trillion in market cap, a milestone that cements its position as one of the world's wealthiest companies. The only publicly-traded U.S. company valued higher is Apple, with a market cap of $1.1 trillion. (Bezos, who founded Amazon, is the world's wealthiest man and owns The Washington Post.)

"Amazon is worth $1 TRILLION," Sanders tweeted Tuesday. "Thousands of Amazon workers have to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing to survive. That is what a rigged economy looks like."

Amazon has fired back against Sanders and his claims that thousands of Amazon employees rely on federal benefits to make ends meet. Those figures are “inaccurate and misleading,” the company said last week, because they include temporary workers as well as those who choose to work part time.

The value of Amazon's stock has more than doubled in the past year, causing Bezos's net worth to skyrocket 69 percent to $168 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The median Amazon worker, meanwhile, was paid $28,446 last year, according to company filings.

The bill follows similar legislation introduced in Congress last summer by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). The Corporate Responsibility and Taxpayer Protection Act currently has nine co-sponsors, including Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee of California, Jamie B. Raskin of Maryland and Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District.

"All this legislation is saying, is: Taxpayers shouldn't be responsible for paying the expenses of workers employed by multibillion-dollar companies," Khanna said. "The basic premise of the American Dream is that if you work hard and you work for a company that's doing well, you should earn enough to support your family. Instead, we have an absurd situation where companies with a trillion dollars in market cap — the wealthiest in the world — with employees who don't make enough to support the basic needs of themselves and their families."

A spokesman for Sanders said the senator's office has heard from hundreds of current and former Amazon workers in recent weeks who had to rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid and other government programs to cover their families' basic needs. There is no official measure of a "living wage," but the federal poverty level for a family of four is $24,600.


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+39 # librarian1984 2018-09-05 11:49
I hate to say this but the 2020 election is going to start on November 7th, 2018 -- and I'm ready.
 
 
-1 # Robbee 2018-09-05 14:50
Quoting librarian1984:
I hate to say this but the 2020 election is going to start on November 7th, 2018 -- and I'm ready.

- ready to dump excess baggage? chip on the attitude? - good news, we hope?
 
 
+1 # Robbee 2018-09-05 14:52
Bernie Sanders Introduces 'Stop BEZOS Act' in the Senate, 05 September 18

- O U T S T A N D I N G !
 
 
-3 # economagic 2018-09-05 20:01
Nah, it started three years ago!
 
 
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-07 09:03
lib -- I don't think so. I think it has already begun. Liz Warren is running hard. So is Sanders. This is the first tier. The second tier has a lot of people who are now just in the grandstanding phase.

But I have to say that it is really good news to see Sanders and Warren out front so strong and so early. They will change the whole nature of the 2020 presidential election. The 2016 run was nothing but a sewer because of the people who were running and leading. Things are looking good on this front.
 
 
+59 # Working Class 2018-09-05 13:50
I think what Sanders is proposing is reasonable and fair. Why in the hell should the taxpayer pay for the benefits that sustain any employee and their families when it is a given that the employer is more than profitable enough to meet that obligation? Right-wingers get their panties all in a bunch over "socialism", but apparently not when mega-corporatio ns (read donors) are sponging off the taxpayer to fund a subsistence existence for their iemployees.
 
 
+45 # Anne Frank 2018-09-05 14:21
The feds give tax cuts, subsidies, and handouts to multibilionnair es, warmongers, and Zionists, but can't scrape together a few nickels to provide health care or education to you or your children.
 
 
+11 # engelbach 2018-09-05 14:40
Excellent idea.

Never pass the Republican Congress.

The GOP prefers that the taxpayers foot the bill rather than the corporatists.

And they want to destroy social programs anyway.
 
 
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-07 09:05
engel -- "Never pass the Republican Congress."


I think you are right. But why not? Don't republicans hate things like food stamps, subsidized healthcare, and all the rest of the so-called "welfare." The law will really make Amazon pay for these things instead of the government. Repubs should like that.
 
 
+6 # Manacha 2018-09-05 15:41
Great idea!! I hope it can go on and be implemented.
 
 
+5 # RLF 2018-09-05 16:56
who wants to bet that this bill doesn't get more than a half dozen Democratic votes?
 
 
+2 # Robbee 2018-09-06 12:55
Quoting RLF 2018-09-05 16:56:
who wants to bet that this bill doesn't get more than a half dozen Democratic votes?

- unless dems retake the senate, it doesn't get any votes? - it simply never gets voted on?

what it says to the chamber of commerce is - "i don't want your bribes!"

what it says to the american voter is - "the chamber of commerce can't bribe me!"
 
 
+12 # John Cosmo 2018-09-05 18:30
This is the kind of gutsy and fair-minded legislation that proves Bernie gets it and is serious about improving our country and helping the people least able to help themselves.
 
 
+17 # lfeuille 2018-09-05 19:44
This is overdue. They've been getting away with this for too long. Of course it's Bernie that finally introduced it.

Bernie 2020!
 
 
+4 # economagic 2018-09-05 20:06
The title alone is brilliant, to say nothing of the text of the bill. It will never get a reading on the floor that Turtle McConnell considers his personal property, so it will be necessary to batter (pun intended) our legislators, especially "our" senators (not mine, but I can batter them anyway) with questions of what they find offensive in this no-brainer bill.
 
 
+8 # laborequalswealth 2018-09-06 04:18
No shit. As a middle class CA taxpayer, how come I have to supplement the income of the employees of The Richest Man in Human History?? And Bezos' corporate scam just got a 40% TAX CUT. (But the government "can't afford" a crappy 2.1% pay increase for WORKING government employees?????)

The other day I tried to buy a product directly from a company but was told by them that they ONLY sold through Amazon. ONLY. So now the only way I can buy the product is by paying the vigorish to Jeff Bezos. I went without the product.

And has anyone else noticed that if you access the Alternet on your phone, you get a constant and non-removable pop-up for Amazon Prime? Annoying as hell.

BTW: Bezos' owns WaPo, which ran this minimalist article. Amazon also has a $600 million $$$ contract with the CIA. Impact reporting at WaPo. Naw......

See this Jimmy Dore Show expose of Amazon. And STOP BUYING FROM AMAZON. Support local businesses instead.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Riinow64_jY
 
 
+1 # Caliban 2018-09-06 13:22
"Support local businesses instead" -- I am all for supporting local businesses, but the last bookstore in my town closed 15 years ago.

The nearest now? A six hour roundtrip drive to one of the last Barnes and Nobles in the state -- and maybe the country.

Suggestions?
 
 
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-08 06:01
Cali -- Yes, Amazon put very many bookstores out of business. Many of them now order from Amazon because it is faster. No physical store can hold the inventory of an on-line store like amazon.

My suggestion is to order directly from the publisher, especially if it is a small publisher. Amazon demands 55% discount off of the cover price from publisher and the publisher have to pay the shipping cost to Amazon. So publisher actually lose money on the books they sell to Amazon (unless there is a very high volume). You still pay retail or close to that. So why not give the publisher the money instead of Amazon? They need the money. It costs a lot to put a book into print and if the volume of sales is not high enough, they lose money. But the books still need to be printed.
 
 
0 # Caliban 2018-09-09 10:28
"No physical store can hold the inventory of an on-line store like amazon" [# RR]

So, the problem is not Amazon so much as the internet? I still love browsing in a physical bookstore, but we must face the fact that the internet is not going away (I hope). And nor is internet retailing.
 
 
+3 # librarian1984 2018-09-06 12:25
Wolf Blitzer: How are you going to pay for this?
 
 
+3 # vilstef 2018-09-06 17:33
I really like this!

Unless the leadership in the Senate goes to the Democrats, Grand Theft Mitch will kill it thoroughly.
 
 
+1 # Dorcas Black 2018-09-06 18:30
The goal is laudable, but the legislation is more about scoring political points than making economic sense. Assume this legislation passes, targeting companies with >500 workers. Their logical response would be to fire all low income workers and rehire them either as independent contractors (with no benefits) or through exempt small business firms that would supply them at going rates. Furthermore--an d here is the biggest problem--it forces employers to consider family size in hiring decisions. If you have lots of kids, a large company can't hire you to any low-paying job, or you might cost the company a government penalty. It makes more sense to raise taxes and let the government provide benefits to those who are eligible.
 
 
0 # LionMousePudding 2018-09-07 21:00
Good points, all.