Bernie Sanders’s Bill Would Hurt the Poor

I voted for Bernie Sanders in 2016. I may vote for him in 2020. Mr. Sanders deserves a ton of credit for bringing progressive issues to the mainstream of American thought. His Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing out Subsidies bill (Stop Bezos Act) is a political stunt that would hurt many poor people.

The idea behind the Stop Bezos Act (named for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) is to tax employers an amount equal to the public benefits the government must provide their employees. In other words, if an Amazon employee got $600 in SNAP benefits, Amazon would be taxed an additional $600. If an Amazon employee’s child got sick and Medicaid paid $35,000 in medical bills, Amazon would be taxed $35,000. Good luck to parents searching for low-income jobs.

Taxing employers of at least 500 people for the amount equal to benefits needed by employees would hurt the poor in several critical ways:

  • Employers would have more of a reason to discriminate against people they believe would be more likely to need benefits. Older workers, people with disabilities, and workers with children would have a harder time finding low-income jobs.
  • The bill tries to prevent discrimination by barring employers from asking about benefits. I hope everyone knows many employers would simply guess as to which applicants may need more expensive benefits. Whether the employer was right or not, the job applicant would be out of a job and left with an almost impossible to prove claim of discrimination.
  • Since the bill attaches to employers with at least 500 employees, some employers may ship jobs overseas or subcontract to avoid the tax. So, the bill could cost some Americans jobs.
  • The bill would give conservatives even more of a reason to push for cuts to benefits, because cutting benefits would result in a tax cut for employers.
  • Some workers, understanding the bill’s impacts, may refuse benefits to make finding work easier.

Bernie Sanders head and heart are clearly in the right place. The Stop Bezos Act, though, is nothing more than a cheap political stunt that has no chance of passing and would hurt those it pretends to help if it did.

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