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Bernie Sanders and Ro Khanna’s Stop BEZOS Act Aims to Get Billionaires Off ‘Corporate Welfare’

Special delivery: Bernie Sanders and Ro Khanna creatively worked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos into their latest legislation. (Aurelijus Valeiša / Flickr)(CC BY 2.0)

The only welfare problem in America is corporate welfare, say Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., in a Time op-ed published Thursday. The biggest welfare recipients, they write, are not the hardworking Americans who need it most, but “the billionaire owners of some of the most profitable corporations in our country.”

The two have co-authored legislation, the Stop BEZOS Act—the name is a jab at Amazon owner Jeff Bezos that stands for Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies—to reverse decades of this practice.

Bezos, the newly minted “wealthiest person on earth,” pays Amazon workers wages so low they must rely on food stamps and other government benefits to get by.

“In effect,” Sanders and Khanna write, “the middle-class taxpayers of this country are subsidizing the low wages paid by the richest person on Earth. That’s nuts.”

Walmart too, is guilty of low-wage practices, as are airlines and most of America’s major fast-food companies. Sanders and Khanna explain:

While the co-owner of Burger King, Jorge Paulo Lemann, has a net worth of about $25 billion, low wages at this fast-food chain cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $356 million a year. And it’s not just Burger King. McDonald’s workers are actually encouraged to sign up for government assistance—meaning the company fully acknowledges that it pays its employees wages that are non-livable.

If American workers were paid a living wage, the two lawmakers continue, “taxpayers would save about $150 billion a year on federal assistance programs and millions of workers would be able to live in dignity and security.”

To encourage this change, Sanders and Khanna’s proposed legislation aims to end “corporate welfare” for billionaires. The choice is simple, they write: “Pay workers a living wage or pay for the public assistance programs their low-wage employees are forced to depend upon.”

“Specifically,” they continue, “this legislation would establish a 100% tax on corporations with 500 or more employees equal to the amount of federal benefits received by their low-wage workers.” In practice, this means, “if a worker at Amazon receives $2,000 in food stamps, the employer would be taxed $2,000 to cover that cost.”

The goal is to create an economy that works for everyone—not just the Jeff Bezoses of the world. Read the entire article here.

Ilana Novick
Blogger / Editorial Assistant

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