The Stop Bezos Act Isn’t The Right Solution

Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna and Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced the Stop Bezos Act. The acronym is pretty good (Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies), but, other than that, I really don’t like it. Here’s what the bill would do (boldface mine):

If companies won’t pay their employees a living wage, Sanders argues, the government should recoup the cost of providing government services through a specific tax.

Sanders is partnering with prominent House progressive Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) on the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (Stop BEZOS) Act, which would enact a tax on large corporations equal to the federal benefits their low-wage employees receive in order to make ends meet. Companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and American Airlines will have to pay every dollar in aid their workers get from the government back through taxes…

Sanders and Khanna’s bill would require large companies — defined as those employing 500 or more workers, including part-time and franchise workers and independent contractors — to pay the costs of federal programs their employees use. It would impose a 100 percent tax equal to the amount a company’s workers receive in federal benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, the school lunch program, and Section 8 housing.

I get what they are trying to do. It would be easier to pay employees more than pay a 100% tax on benefits. Presumably, there would be established cutoffs to make it easy to ‘opt out’ (i.e., above $X/hour and your company is automatically exempt; this pegged only to the federal benefits which are largely invariant among states). On the political side, they’re trying to tap into the anger at companies that just don’t pay enough to live.

But the simpler–and clearer–way to do this is raise the minimum wage to $15/hour. We can afford it, and it would save lives. Unless we are willing to institute Eisenhower era income taxes, which would ding not only the gentry class (and those wealthier) but also much of the upper-middle class, lower-income workers need raises. That’s a minimum wage, and it would apply to every employer, not just large ones.

Keep it simple.

Aside: Look back at this post from 2016, and this related one by Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog, if the Democrats take back the House, the Senate, and the White House in 2021, it’s worth remembering that the opponents to nice things will be inside the wire.

This entry was posted in Democrats, Economics. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Stop Bezos Act Isn’t The Right Solution

  1. Ron Zoscak says:

    I despair of finding any workable solution to this problem. Whether you directly force companies to increase pay by raising the minimum wage or indirectly by a tax to recoup government benefits paid to their workers, you’re still going to have greedy sociopathic bastards running these corporations. They will find some other way to screw over the workers and or the government.

    One way they’ll do it will be to use technology to further cut jobs, especially for “unskilled” positions. Walmart is already phasing in self-checkouts as a way to reduce their payroll, and a lot of people seem to be OK with it. After all, most have grown up pumping their own gas, so it’s not a big leap for them.

    I don’t think raising taxes to Eisenhower era levels will work, either, because the rich back then put up with it partly because they felt more sympathy for their employees, many having served in the military alongside working class men during WWII. That tradition started to go by the time of the Vietnam war, with sons of wealth like McCain and Kerry who served becoming a rarity and those who got deferments or alternative service like Trump and G.W. Bush becoming the norm. In America today, noblesse oblige has been replaced by Randian objectivism, except in superhero movies meant for the masses.

Comments are closed.