The fight between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) and Amazon has escalated with a new piece of legislation.
Previously, Sanders accused Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos of contributing to the "gap between the very rich and everyone else," since he's worth $155 billion while a number of Amazon employees live on taxpayer-funded welfare programs. Because of this, Sanders argues, Bezos is being subsidized by taxpayers.
Today Sanders introduced the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act, otherwise known as the Stop BEZOS Act. The legislation would require companies with more than 500 employees to fully pay for the government benefits received by any of its workers. Sanders said at a press conference that "the taxpayers of this country would no longer be subsidizing the wealthiest people in this country who are paying their workers inadequate wages."
In a tweet about the bill, Sanders stressed that he still thinks the government "has a moral responsibility to provide for the vulnerable. But taxpayers should not have to expend huge sums of money subsidizing profitable corporations owned by some of the wealthiest people in the country and the world."
Amazon has not yet responded to the bill, but last week it issued a press release calling Sanders' criticisms "misleading and inaccurate." The company argued that its average hourly wage is $15 an hour plus overtime, paid family leave and other flexible leave options, and "a comprehensive benefit package including health insurance, disability insurance, retirement savings plans, and company stock." The company also said that the figures Sanders used included people who worked Amazon for a short time and those who chose to work part-time.
This is not the first time someone has suggested an Amazon tax. This year the Seattle city government passed a job tax that would collect 26 cents for every hour worked by each employee in a company that grossed more than $20 million. The tax was scrapped after businesses, citizens, and unions representing construction workers who are building a new Amazon office came out against it.
The legislation comes the same day Bezos was in the news cycle for donating $10 million to a pro-veterans PAC, his first major political contribution.