MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Bernie Sanders Introduces a New Bill in His Latest Hit Against Amazon

The senator has accused Jeff Bezos of being subsidized by taxpayers.

Mark Makela/Reuters/NewscomMark Makela/Reuters/NewscomThe 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.

Photo Credit: MARK MAKELA/REUTERS/Newscom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • John||

    If he is being subsidized by taxpayers, why don't we just stop subsidizing him? Stop paying his employees welfare and then no one is subsidizing anyone.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Because then Bernie would have to admit that central planning doesn't work and he wouldn't get as many views on his YouTube channel.

  • John||

    Yes. It is just a bit curious for someone to be complaining about a government subsidy and not demanding the subsidy be ended.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    The funniest thing is if this did pass wouldn't Amazon be able to argue in court this is double taxation and then they'd get to write it off on its tax return which would be a subsidy to Amazon in the form of tax relief. So Bernie would have to go back to his drawing board to come up with some other way other then to just cut the damn welfare checks to all (mostly big business and poor people).

  • Paloma||

    Or he could just expropriate Amazon, in the style of his idol Hugo Chavez.

  • Shirley Knott||

    But if we stop the subsidy, we won't need quite as many people to work and/or manage the program.
    But bureaucracies are like tumors, difficult to shrink, let alone excise.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I was reading comments about this on another website and someone was trying to show that welfare to Amazon's employees is welfare to Amazon, and they explicitly said that without workers' welfare, Amazon would have to pay more. And yet they still thought Bernie's solution was the right one. *facepalm*

  • I'm Not Sure||

    Might as well call it the "Stop Employers From Hiring People on Welfare Act", since that'll be the result.

  • perlchpr||

    +1

  • Juice||

    Bernie's way better at coming up with acronyms for bills than you. That's why he makes the big government bucks and has three houses.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Also on another website, someone claimed he is poorest Senator. When someone else said he made $1M last year, the response was that it's ok because that was doing socially useful things like writing books, not whatever Amazon does.

  • perlchpr||

    I want that person to be forced to grow all their own food, and to starve to death if they fail.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "Bernie's way better at coming up with acronyms for bills than you."

    To be fair, he's got way more time than I do for these things- I have to work for a living.

  • Fairbanks||

    More like the "Stop Companies From Hiring People Act, Full Stop" since no one knows what the qualifications will be in the future for receiving government benefits, or what new benefits Congress will come up with.

  • I can't even||

    So a Bill of Attainder?

    He should swing by and ask Kavanaugh about that.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I was thinking that as well

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Coming up with that retarded acronym is the only real hard work Bernie has ever done.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""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""

    Is this what Sanders wanted? Or is $15 an hour not enough for Sanders?

  • Juice||

    That's the average, not the minimum. Just saying.

  • Juice||

    Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act, otherwise known as the Stop BEZOS Act.

    Somebody better have gotten a bonus for coming up with that one. If they didn't, Sanders is a bad employer.

  • Paloma||

    There's probably an app that does it.

  • Juice||

    Available in the Amazon App Store?

  • SQRLSY One||

    So Amazon has "a comprehensive benefit package including health insurance, disability insurance, retirement savings plans, and company stock."

    Well, Bernie and I want to KNOW, dammit, does their health insurance provide the BARE minimum coverage that is NEEDED these days? By that I mean...

    I ***NEED*** to have insurance coverage mandates for aromatherapy, Scientology therapy, addiction therapy, space alien abduction therapy, sex change therapy, species change therapy, enrich-my-uncle-the- hypnotist therapy, past-lives regression therapy, sex addiction therapy, love-your-Government -Almighty relationship therapy, therapy-therapy, and on and on...

  • The Last American Hero||

    Comrade Sanders must think a bill of attainder is the tax invoice the IRS is going to address to Mr. Bezos.

    This should at least warrant censure and probably is deserving of impeachment.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    How 'bout the "Stop
    Stupid
    Asshole
    Neutralizing
    Democratic
    Efforts
    Reducing
    Socialism" Act?

  • Jay Dubya||

    I prefer the:
    Freely
    Undermine
    Congressional
    Kleptocracy
    By
    Entertaining
    Realistic
    Notions (of)
    Individual
    Emancipation
    Act.

    Call your local Congress Critter & tell him or her to proceed with the F.U.C.K.B.E.R.N.I.E. initiative.

  • lap83||

    Why is a taxpayer subsidy of Amazon worse than the government owning Amazon, like Bernie would want

  • Jay Dubya||

    dude what were you expecting, a rational argument based on first principles? That shit doesn't resonate with todays voters. FEEL THE BERN BRO!

    P.S. A society ordered on talent is a meritocracy. A government of thieves is a kleptocracy. A government ruled by Apple Genius bar tweens is a technocracy. A state where only guys named Time who own a house can vote is a Timocracy. And an Ergatocracy is where the government buys everyone a really comfortable chair.

    But what is it called when the only people who can be elected president are over-medicated, over-weight, wrinkly, possible sex-offender white grandpas who mispronounce the names of TV Shows ("Have you seen the last episode of THE SIGN-FEEELD?") and can't drive through McDonalds without declaring - as loudly as possible - at least one shocking ethinc slur that would end the career of a celebrity if posted on Twitter, written on a bathroom wall, whispered in a dark alley, or even though about intensely for longer than 15 seconds.

    I double-dog-dare you to day dream about the almost dead-certainty of an Election Night: 2020 featuring the standoff between "Teflon" Don Trump & Bernie "Kosher Nostra" Sanders *without* contemplating suicide.

    P.P.S. Donald Trump's middle name is John. This makes his name "Don John". The United States elected "President Don John" and *no one noticed*.

  • Agammamon||

    So, the government *chooses* to have the requirements to loose that these people qualify for benefits.

    The government *chooses* to take money from other people to pay these benefits.

    Bezos, et al, will have no say in who gets what or how much.

    And Sanders thinks this would be seen as anything other than a cash grab?

  • Jimothy||

    Coming to a YouThe channel near you:

    Bernie Sanders OWNS Amazon. No seriously, he now owns the company.

  • RabbitHead||

    It's always a vote grab

  • Agammamon||

    One problem for Sanders though - a lot of the reason these people 'need' to be on benefits is because (outside of the very low bar for qualifying) is that Amazon is in *Seattle*.

    This would just mean that Amazon's case for moving to a low CoL jurisdiction would be stronger. Move to a place like Yuma and that $15/hr median wage is more like $30 in a place like Seattle. Move to the outskirts of a place like Phoenix or Tucson and they still have access to the transportation (and 'cultural') hubs they want.

  • perlchpr||

    $15 in Yuma is probably more like $45 in Seattle.

    Phoenix is no place for people.

    Denver, though...

  • LynchPin1477||

    On top of everything else wrong with this, it smacks of labor theory of value.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    There needs to be a BERNIE Act:

    The Basic Economics Rendered Nearly Intelligible for Everyone Act.

    Bernie himself could be their first test case. But I doubt he'd learn even the first thing about economics. When you pair an incompetent teacher with a dinwitted student, there won't be much learning going on.

  • Jonathan H.||

    I suspect they spent more time and self-congratulations on that tortured acronym than they did on the actual substance of the bill.

  • Jerry B.||

    Best way to make Trump a two-term president would be a Sanders/Warren ticket in 2020.

  • macsnafu||

    What I want to know is how to stop subsidizing Bernie Sanders!

  • B Wilds||

    People on both the far left and the far right see Amazon as a problem because it is!
    I'm particularly troubled by Jeff Bezos and his connections with the CIA and deep state. The CEO of Amazon did not purchase the Washington Post in 2013 because he expected newspapers to make a lucrative resurgence. He purchased the long-trusted U.S. newspaper for the power it would ensure him in Washington and because it could be wielded as a propaganda mouthpiece to extend his ability to both shape and control public opinion. The article below supports the opinion that since then he has used it to gain wealth and power.

    http://brucewilds.blogspot.com.....itans.html

  • B Wilds||

    Amazon harms communities!
    Retail stores closings have become so common they go often go unnoticed. The other day the last Sears store in my city announced it is going to shutter its doors. This is the third anchor store in the mall across from my office to exit in 2018. Last year more than 7,000 stores closed their doors, more than twice the amount of stores that opened in the same time period.

    The costly bill resulting from online retailers assaulting our brick and mortar retailers will come in many forms including defaults on loans and bonds as well as reduced property taxes for local communities. We can also expect a slew of empty buildings blighting our landscape and driving down the value of properties across the nation. The article below explores this issue.

    http://brucewilds.blogspot.com.....y-can.html

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online