"I think it is fair to say the American people are exhausted of having to subsidize the wealthiest people in this country who are paying wages that are just so low that people can't get by", Sanders said at a press conference. "Our legislation gives large, profitable employers a choice: Pay workers a living wage, or pay for the public assistance programs their low-wage employees are forced to depend on".
But Jared Bernstein, the former chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden and a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says the bill could actually end up hurting the very workers it is trying to help.
Bernie says, "Bezos is paying his employees so low that these workers are depending on food stamps, subsidized housing and Medicaid to survive".
"Senator Sanders continues to spread misleading statements about pay and benefits", Amazon wrote on its blog Day One.
The bill would impose a 100% tax on companies equal to the benefit their employees are receiving from public sector assistance programs like Medicaid, Section 8 housing, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. Low wages at McDonald's alone cost the federal government and US taxpayers over $1.2 billion a year, while 52% of all fast food workers rely upon public assistance programs to survive. The median Amazon worker, meanwhile, was paid $28,446 past year, according to company filings. While incentivizing companies to pay their employees higher wages, the measure would shift the burden from taxpayers back to the companies, he said.
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The bill, also introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna, is meant to keep large employers from underpaying their workers. For full-time employees alone, the median income at Amazon is $34,123. The BEZOS - or Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies - is an effort to force employers to increase their wages or cover the cost of government aid programs like SNAP. But last week, Amazon responded by asking employees to tell the Vermont Senator "your truth".
He argued that Amazon's average pay, at $28,446, is 9 percent less than the industry standard and well below a livable wage. "It's not hard to imagine that employers would be wary of hiring someone who they think - rightly or wrongly - would invoke the tax".
Business Insider contacted Amazon for comment on the bill.
Plus, the legislation likely wouldn't do much to raise wages, the center said.
For example, if an employee receives $1,000 in federal assistance, the employer will be charged that amount as a tax.