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S.3410 - The Stop Bad Employers By Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS) Act.

Congress man and Senator Bernie Sanders speaking in front of a podium at an event.

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to impose a tax on employers whose employees receive certain Federal benefits, and for other purposes.

You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe corporations with 500 or more employees, should pay back the government for any federal assistance given to its workers. For instance, should a worker receive $200 in food stamps or SNAP benefits, the employer should be taxed $200.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe governments should not tax corporations for the benefits their workers receive. Corporations will evade the tax and will be eventually be discouraged from hiring those who might need assistance.

Watch Sen. Sanders' remarks on the legislation.

The Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act would make large corporations pay back the government for any federal assistance given to its workers. Specifically, it would tax profitable corporations, with 500 employees or more, 100% of the amount of federal benefits received by their low-wage workers with the intent of ending corporate welfare at the expense of the American taxpayer. For instance, a worker who receives $200 in food stamps, the employer corporation would be taxed $200 to cover the cost.

Introduced on September 5th, 2018, by Senator Sanders of Vermont and Representative Ro Khanna of California, the bill aims to "give large, profitable corporations such as Amazon and Walmart a choice: pay workers a living wage or pay for the public assistance programs like Medicaid, food stamps and public housing its low-wage workers are forced to rely on."

According to a study from the University of California, Berkeley Labor Center, low wages cost taxpayers about $150 billion per year. Senator sanders' summary of the bill breaks down a few examples:
- "Walmart pays its associates wages so low that many of them are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing to survive at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of an estimated $6.2 billion a year."
- "Low wages at McDonald's alone cost the federal government and U.S. taxpayers over $1.2 billion a year, while 52 percent of all fast food workers rely upon public assistance programs to survive."
- "According to The New Food Economy, 1 out of 3 Amazon workers in Arizona and 2,400 in Pennsylvania and Ohio depend on food stamps to put food on the table."
- "According to a recent survey, some 27 percent of workers at American Airlines subsidiary Envoy Air make wages so low that they rely on food stamps and other forms of public assistance to survive."

Senator Sanders asked Amazon workers to share their experiences with his office about wages and working conditions at the company. Hundreds of them responded. Here are some of the stories Sen. Sanders received:

- A former Amazon worker from Tennessee said: “I worked at Amazon for 5 months at 11.00 an hour as a full time employee. I was on snap and had to live with my parents and my 3 children because I could not afford to find a safe location for my family.”

- A current Amazon employee in Illinois said: “I work 40 hours a week at $13.25. I have 2 kids to support. I receive 90 dollars of food stamps … I don’t make enough to eat lunch at work so I split a protein shake between 2 meals to make sure my children eat.”

- Another Amazon worker said: “When I started working for Amazon my family was receiving welfare such [as] SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid. I'm still receiving those benefits because I make so little money even though I work 40 hours a week. Don't get me wrong I like my job (most days) and love my coworkers. It's just really frustrating to watch Bezo's wealth 3 grow while his employees are literally living paycheck to paycheck and have to rely on the government to survive.”

- A former Amazon worker from North Carolina said: “Been on food stamps (yes snap) the entire time I [have] been working at Amazon -back breaking labor, terrible pay and even worse conditions - no union backing. I feel like a slave and if anyone complains they will fire you on the spot. This is the 21st century sweatshop.”

Amazon has responded by saying the studies cited are inaccurate and misleading since they include part time employees and temporary workers who worked short amounts of time. In the company blog post, Amazon calls out their benefit programs and their paid leave programs for mothers among other benefits enjoyed by Amazon employees.

Senator Sanders isn't just targeting Amazon with his bill. According to a Forbes report, Walmart's wages are so low, they cost the American taxpayer $6.2 billion each and every year. A Business Insider report states that low wages at Burger King cost the American taxpayer $356 million every year and according to a report by The Atlantic, McDonald's actually encourages their workers to sign up for federal assistance and food stamps.

Critics have responded with a bag of potential issues. For instance, companies might be discouraged from hiring those that seem like they might need federal assistance or that not only low-wage americans rely on federal assistance, some middle class individuals rely on it as well. Companies will find a way around it or might just cut jobs in order to cover the costs.

President Trump has criticized Amazon for being a burden on the American taxpayer and the Post Office, calling the U.S. Post Office Amazon's "delivery boy."

"Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is the wealthiest person on earth. Today, his net worth is $168 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Since the beginning of this year, his wealth has increased by about $260 million – every single day. Meanwhile, Mr. Bezos continues to pay many thousands of his Amazon employees wages that are so low that they must rely on food stamps, Medicaid or public housing in order to survive. Programs that are financed by middle class taxpayers," said Senator Sanders.

"Let us be very clear: We believe that the government has a moral responsibility to provide for the vulnerable – the children, the elderly, the sick and the disabled. But we do not believe that taxpayers should have to expend huge sums of money subsidizing profitable corporations owned by some of the wealthiest people in this country."


Sponsored by: Sen. Bernie Sanders [I-VT].

Cosponsored by: 0 Rep / 0 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.

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