Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced a bill on Wednesday that would require large corporations to reimburse the government for welfare benefits extended to their employees.
The bill, dubbed the “Stop BEZOS Act” in reference to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, would implement a 100 percent tax on any government welfare distributed to employees of corporations with more than 500 workers. In essence, it would require such corporations to pay the government one dollar in taxes for every dollar Washington spends providing its employees with federal welfare benefits.
“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 told reporters at a press 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.”
Amazon, which reached a historic $1 trillion market cap on Tuesday, has emerged as a favorite target of the Sanders-led progressive wing of the Democratic party, as well as the populist right. Agitators on both sides have accused the online-retail giant, along with companies such as Walmart and McDonald’s, of building their immense wealth at the expense of underpaid employees who are forced to rely on government programs to escape poverty.
“Amazon is worth $1 TRILLION,” Sanders tweeted on 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.”
Bezos’s net worth soared 69 percent, to $168 billion, over the past year, while the median Amazon worker made $28,446 over the same period.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson targeted Bezos and his ultra-wealthy peers in a segment earlier this week, praising Sanders as the only politician willing to address what he views as an “indefensible scam.”
Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. Many of his employees are so poor, you’re paying their welfare benefits. And he’s not the only tech billionaire offloading his payroll costs onto taxpayers. This is an indefensible scam. Why is only Bernie talking about it? pic.twitter.com/PdXBfQsHsq
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) August 31, 2018
Representative Ro Khanna (D., Calif.) introduced a bill similar to Sanders’s legislation in the House last year. It currently has nine co-sponsors in the lower chamber’s Democratic caucus.