Sanders’ Stop BEZOS Act would penalizes companies like Amazon for government benefits, but would it help workers?
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders continued his feud with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos by taking aim at the company’s business practices this week. Sanders introduced a bill called Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (Stop BEZOS) Act, a reference to Amazon’s CEO. The bill is intended to force companies with 500 or more workers to pay a tax equal to government benefits received by their low wage workers. This would basically force large companies to pay back the welfare programs they currently get from the government for free.
This legislation is also supported by California senator Ro Khanna, who put forth a similar bill last year called the Corporate Responsibility and Taxpayer Protection Act.
But, writing for Forbes, Drew Hansen argues that penalties are not the best way to ensure that workers benefit at companies like Amazon. “Companies behave differently when ordinary workers participate more fully in decision-making,” Hansen writes. “A majority of Americans already support allowing employees at large companies to elect representatives to their boards of directors… Studies point to higher wages, less short-termism, improved productivity, greater R&D investment, and more income equality (when workers take board seats).”
Meanwhile, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calls the Stop BEZOS Act a risk to families: “Among its problems, the legislation would create powerful incentives for employers to seek to minimize their hiring of workers who are in low-income families and, thus, more likely to qualify for Medicaid or nutrition or housing assistance. Since employers won’t know definitively which prospective employees receive benefits (and are not allowed to ask under the bill), they will have an incentive to steer away from groups the employer believes will more likely qualify for benefits.”
Time will tell if this bill will be improved upon or if it will be voted down as is.