Vermont’s Communist Senator Bernie Sanders escalated his all-out war with America’s largest corporations this week; unveiling his plan to tax Amazon, Walmart, and other companies 100% of the total amount of federal benefits received by their workers.
Sanders slammed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a series of public statements over Amazon’s working conditions and low-pay; saying many of its employees received government assistance and food stamps despite working full-time.
Bottom line: No one working for the wealthiest person on Earth should have to rely on food stamps. No one working for a man who earns $260 million a day should be forced to sleep in their car. Yet that is what's happening at Amazon.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 29, 2018
You can read Bernie’s full statement below.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement Wednesday after Amazon responded to Sanders’ call for stories from Amazon workers:
“Let’s start with the facts. All over this country, many Amazon employees, who work for the wealthiest person on Earth, are paid wages so low they can’t make ends meet. Thousands of Amazon employees are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing because their wages are too low, including 1 out of 3 of its workers in Arizona and 2,400 in Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to The New Food Economy. Bottom line: the taxpayers of this country should not have to subsidize employees at a company owned by Mr. Bezos who is worth $155 billion. That is absurd.
“Amazon has been less than forthcoming with information about their employment practices. What we do know is that Amazon’s median employee pay is only $28,446 — 9 percent less than the industry average and well below what constitutes a living wage in the United States. Further, we believe that many of Amazon’s workers are employed by temporary staffing agencies and contractors and make even less than the median Amazon employee.
“Unfortunately, this is all the information we have because Amazon refuses to make public complete information about the wages and benefits provided by the contractors it uses to run fulfillment centers across the country. If Amazon is so proud of the way it treats its workers, it should make public the number of people it hires through temporary staffing agencies like Integrity Staffing Solutions and make public the hourly rate and benefits those workers earn.
“It’s not only low wages that are of concern with regard to Amazon. There are deeply disturbing stories about working conditions at fulfillment centers run by Amazon and its contractors. Amazon’s warehouses are on the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s list of most dangerous places to work in the United States. According to the NCOSH, seven Amazon workers have died on or near the job since 2013, including three workers within five weeks at three separate locations last year. I will be asking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate unsafe working conditions at Amazon fulfillment centers.
“In terms of visiting a fulfillment center, last month I was visiting Wisconsin and requested to visit the fulfillment center in Kenosha. Unfortunately, Amazon could not accommodate me then. In September, I look forward to visiting the fulfillment center in Chester, Virginia, and working out the details with Amazon. We have heard from workers there, including Navy veteran Seth King, about unsafe working conditions and at least one person has reportedly died at the warehouse.
“On September 5 we are going to introduce legislation to end the absurdity of middle class taxpayers having to subsidize large, profitable corporations, many of which are owned by billionaires. If Amazon, Walmart and other corporations won’t pay their workers a living wage, our bill would establish a 100 percent tax equal to the amount of federal benefits received by their low-wage workers. The American taxpayer should not be subsidizing the richest people in history so they can underpay their employees.”
Below are some of the whining diatribes from Amazon snowflakes Sanders has received in recent days:
“I currently am unable to find an afford a home/apartment for me and my daughter. I am a father of 1 daughter. I live with my brother and his family because the high prices of rent and the low wage. I am also a former United States Marine.” – Current worker, Pierce County, Washington
“Our starting wage is $12.25/hourly and the first raise of 25 cents after 6 months. I am currently working a second job in an attempt to make ends meet. Our facility is estimated 1.3 million sq feet. We get a 30-minute lunch when is like inhaling your food and two 10 minute breaks. We have asked for longer breaks and lunches as it takes time to walk through the massive facility. We’ve inquired about pay for individual performance. We’ve asked the wage to be considered as the cost of living in California is higher than most states. The answer was simply no.” –Current worker, Riverside, California
“Amazon’s ‘Fulfillment’ Centers are not designed with human beings in mind. If anyone wanted to experience what a turn of the 20th century American sweat shop might have looked/sounded/felt like they could look no further than Amazon.” – Former worker, San Antonio, Texas
“Was homeless sleeping in the parking lot after I no longer could afford rent.” – Former worker, Fort Worth, Texas
“If my aunt wasn’t helping I wouldn’t be able to make it at least put food on the table. And after the rest is said and done I don’t even have enough to put back in case of an emergency. If my care runs into problems or someone gets sick to where I miss a day’s worth of work my daughter and I would be one step closer to being homeless.” – Current worker, Cleveland, Tennessee
“My Fulfillment Center rarely makes corporate’s monthly quota. Most of the associates can make the individual’s quota but it’s still a struggle. Because of this, many associates break the safety rules, making an already dangerous warehouse even more so.” –Current worker, Reno, Nevada
“It takes 5 minutes to walk to lunch and 5 minutes to walk back but you are timed precisely from scan to scan on items and only given a 30-minute break. Any violation of the aforementioned and you are written up. Three write ups and you are fired. It was sad working there because me and so many of my friends there worked so hard and were treated so poorly.” –Former worker, Houston, Texas
“I have emotional trauma from working there as well as physical. It felt worse than being in jail some days. Because you had chosen to be there. Before you knew what it really was. There is so much more to the story and if had the money and resources I would have sued them.” –Former worker, Harrisburg, North Carolina
The question most would have for these workers is simple. Nobody forces you to work for Amazon, so why don’t you quit if the job is so horrible? Oh, you won’t quit? Thanks for confirming Amazon pays you enough.
Earlier this year, Congressional Democrats released a detailed tax hike plan that they promised to implement if given majority control of the House and Senate after the 2018 midterm elections.
So much for the crocodile tears about the deficit–Democrats want to raise taxes not to reduce the debt, but rather to spend that tax hike money on boondoggle projects, Forbes reports.
As you might expect, hold onto your wallets. Here are the details:
Increase the top marginal income tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent. This nearly 3 percentage point increase in the top personal rate is not only a hike in the top bracket levy, but it’s also a direct tax increase on small and mid-sized businesses. The 30 million companies which are organized as sole proprietorships, partnerships, Subchapter-S corporations, and LLCs pay their business taxes on their owners’ 1040 personal tax returns. Hiking the top tax rate is a small business tax increase.
Increasing personal income taxes would be particularly unfortunate since workers are now seeing the results of lower rates in their paychecks. Thanks to the new IRS withholding tables, in February of this year over 90 percent of workers saw higher take home pay in the form of fatter direct deposits (for a humorous spectacle of the New York Times desperately trying to get people to down-talk their bigger paychecks, click here). They will continue to see those bigger paydays for as long as the tax rates in law remain in effect. This higher tax home pay is a down payment on a lower tax liability. Typical families of four should see their federal income tax decline from $2000 to $4000, depending on their income level and number of children.
Increase the corporate income tax rate from 21 percent to 25 percent. Up until this year, the United States labored under the highest corporate income tax rate in the developed world. As a result, jobs and capital were fleeing America for more normal tax rates that could be found in tax havens like France and China (saracasm font very much activated). Finally, after many years of bipartisan consensus that the U.S. corporate rate had become an impediment to attracting new jobs and investment, Congress cut the rate all the way from 35 to 21 percent. Even doing that only puts us in the middle of the pack of developed nations, but that’s a heck of a lot better than dead last.
As a result of this change, companies like Fiat Chrysler, Amgen, and Amicus Therapeutics (among many others) have announced new factories and jobs would be built in America, not in other countries. Americans for Tax Reform keeps a running list of tax cut bonuses, raises, 401(k) match increases, and other benefits companies are passing along to workers as a result of this tax cut. The current number as of this writing is 431 companies and over 4 million workers. Just yesterday, Cox Enterprises announced bonuses of up to $2000 for 55,000 of their workers. Walmart and Wells Fargo have announced permanent wage hikes for all employees, notably those on the lowest rung of the ladder. Electric and other utility bills are going down in states all across the country.
Not content to endanger all that good news, the Democrat tax increase goes on to call for the following:
Bring back the alternative minimum tax (AMT) for 4 million families. Up until this year, 4 million upper middle class families had to calculate their income taxes two different ways, and then pay the higher result. This was due to a provision of the law known as the “alternative minimum tax” or AMT. Millions more had to at least pay a tax preparer to run the calculation, even if they didn’t end up paying the AMT. The new tax law all but repealed the AMT for 99 percent of these families thanks to a higher AMT “standard deduction.” Congressional Democrats would bring back the dreaded AMT, which especially hit hard two-income white collar families with kids in New York, New Jersey, and California.
Cut the “death tax” standard deduction in half. Over the past few decades, no tax has proven more unpopular in every single poll than the death tax, the federal tax on estates. 60 to 70 percent of poll respondents consistently call for its full repeal. The new tax law didn’t repeal the death tax, but it did the next best thing–it doubled the death tax’s “standard deduction” from $5.5 million to $11 million (and twice that for surviving spouses). As a result, far fewer family businesses and farms will be subject to the death tax, and many smaller firms can shed the costly insurance, legal, and actuarial costs of avoiding the death tax. Like the top personal rate, the death tax is not something that really affects the rich, who have plenty of resources to avoid the levy. Rather, it hits hardest those companies profitable enough to worry about it but not profitable enough to not worry about, if you catch my meaning. Democrats have never understood this, which is why it’s not surprising they want to reduce the death tax’s standard deduction back down to what it was before.
All of this is very confusing given that the new tax law is supported by a plurality of the American people (the New York Times reports it’s actually a majority) and is growing in popularity. A good chunk of people haven’t even yet realized they’ve received a tax cut, so the favorable numbers should continue to grow. Maybe that’s why a Democrat pollster and strategist recently wrote:
Since the passage of the Republicans’ tax bill, and even before it, Democrats have been losing the messaging war. Now that many Americans are seeing the results in their paystubs, it’s even harder for Democrats to make this a winning issue. Voters are seeing the bill’s positive impact and are not likely to oppose it because we tell them they’re not benefiting, and many voters who aren’t seeing the impact still support the bill. If Democrats want to continue using this bill as a major issue for November, we need a new messaging strategy.
Instead of figuring out how to raise taxes, Congressional Democrats would do better to work in a bipartisan manner to make the middle class and pro-jobs tax relief just passed into law permanent. A rising tide lifts all boats.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
September 3rd, 2018