Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna believe some of the most successful corporations in America, like Amazon and Walmart should be taxed on the amount of federal assistance their low-wage workers need to access in order to survive.
“I think it is fair to say that the American people are tired of having to subsidize the wealthiest people in this country who are paying wages that are so low that people can’t get by,” said Sanders at a press conference with Khanna Wednesday to introduce the legislation.
Specifically, the bill would place a 100 percent tax on corporations with 500 or more employees that is equal to the amount of federal benefits, such as food stamps, Medicaid, and subsidized housing, that is received by its low wage employees.
But the bill also appears to be a populist screed against Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, and Walmart’s Walton family, which holds a combined wealth of $170 billion.
Bezos is also worth $168 billion, Sanders noted, but pays wages to thousands of his employees so low that they rely on food stamps, medicaid, subsidized housing. Taxpayers spend $6 billion a year on public assistance for Walmart workers across the country, he added.
“This is not a radical idea,” said Khanna, while referencing the popularity of Henry Ford’s decision to double hourly wages for his employees more than 100 years ago from $2.50 to $5.
“There is a sense in America that if you work hard and if you happen to pick a company that does well, you should do well. That is the basic American promise,” said Khanna.
“If you bag groceries, you should be able to buy groceries. If you serve a meal at a restaurant, every now and then you should be able to buy a meal. If you put together the packages that land on the doorstep of my wife and I, you should be able to go online and shop for those packages.”