State Headliners: Sanders anti-Amazon bill a jungle for Vermont workers

By Guy Page

Sen. Bernie Sanders says his Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act would force billionaires like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to repay in federal taxes every dollar their employees receive in federally-funded benefits like food stamps, school lunches, Medicaid and housing assistance.

It would also significantly increase the cost of employing Vermonters working for many for-profit and not-for-profit corporations.

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Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, and Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont.

The bill is hailed by some as a politically-astute shout-out by a likely 2020 presidential candidate to blue collar workers at Amazon’s 75 U.S. “Fulfillment Centers”, the warehouses located mostly in Indiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Nevada, Utah and other “fly over” states. These jobs offer comprehensive, innovative benefits, but pay the average warehouse worker just $27,000 per year, according to glassdoor.com.

The closest Fulfillment Center to Vermont is Nashua, New Hampshire. So if Vermonters are not paying attention to their senator-who-would-be-president’s bill, it’s understandable. But Stop BEZOS as written applies to every existing or planned corporation or family of corporations with 500 or more employees in the United States. So if like many Vermonters you work for:

  • a big, 500+ employee company like Global Foundries;
  • a Vermont outpost of any size in a national corporation of 500 or more employees;
  • a company in a family of corporations of which total employment is 500 or more;
  • a contractor that does most of its business with one of these 500+ employee corporations;

….the Stop BEZOS Bill, if passed, would apply to you. The bill does not even explicitly make an exception for not-for-profit corporations.

A Stop BEZOS law would hit your company, whether successful or struggling, with a huge, new, hard-to-predict federal tax with zero operational benefit. Just 50 employees receiving a modest, average $10,000 in combined federal benefits would require your company to send the IRS an extra half-million dollars a year. Vermont employers already pay above the national average in energy, health care insurance, and taxation.

An employer who is both enlightened and flush with cash might possibly absorb the added expense. This would bring employees a sigh of relief — but no extra pay. Many employers, already practicing “lean” management to survive, would simply shake their heads and cut jobs. They might start with those who are suddenly the most expensive employees under Sen. Sanders’ new law — single moms most reliant on federal benefits.

For decades, Washington has been building benefits for working people. Welfare isn’t just for the indigent unemployed anymore. Housing and health care costs continue to grow, as do the number of single-parent families. More and more working Americans have turned to federal benefits. Getting employers to discuss their role in solving the “benefits cliff” problem is essential. Stop BEZOS is a conversation stopper. As a bill it may have a certain class-struggle appeal in Tennessee, but as a law it would stop all real benefits cliff progress and very possibly toss many Vermonters out of good-paying jobs.

This November, Sanders is running for re-election by the voters of Vermont. At least one other candidate for U.S. Senator, Lawrence Zupan of Manchester, is running on a simple message: “Zupan Vs. Sanders: It’s About Vermont.” Unlike Sen. Sanders, he’s available to talk to the Vermont press (I met with him earlier this week).

According to the 9/19 Seven Days, Sanders’ re-election campaign recently pledged $150,000 to the Vermont Democratic Party. There will be no criticism for that quarter. It’s up to candidates like Zupan to demonstrate why a U.S. Senator should care more about jobs in Vermont (population 623,657) than in Memphis, Tennessee (population 656,861).

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Tony Webster and Page Communications
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6 thoughts on “State Headliners: Sanders anti-Amazon bill a jungle for Vermont workers

  1. Many of us (MEN) were drafted into the military for Vietnam, against our will. I was lucky, I never went over.
    My starting pay was $87 a month – for 80 – 100 hours a week duty. After my civilian bills, I worked for $8 a month, and I couldn’t use my car that I was paying for..
    My top pay as a 1LT was about $500 a month. $17 a day.
    I wasn’t alone, millions were treated that way.

    Bernie, Do as I say, Not as I DO ! Do as the Gov say, not as the Gov’t does.
    Bernie is the most offensive Multi Millionaire of my knowledge!. Even his wife offends me!

  2. So Mr. BURN…. How are you going to get the US Gov’t to pay? An E-1 entering the military (with say a wife and one child) makes approx 19 thousand a year. I am sure he would be on assistance… So you are saying if a person receives assistance from the Gov’t due to low wages, then the employer must pay the gov’t back the money this person receives….

    What a Dip Sh!t.

  3. Maybe someone should introduce a bill, let’s call it “stop Sanders from stealing.” For every money grab Bern introduces, he will need to forfeit one of his many ill gotten homes. If he believes the garbage coming out of his mouth, he would give them away anyways.

  4. That’s all Bernie cares about is Bernie. He’s always running his mouth and stirring the pot. Is this the first bill that he’s ever initiated in the senate. If it isn’t, it’s close for the only thing he ever does is scream. What a loser. He could care about Vermont.

  5. Thanks for this analysis Guy. Senator Sander’s bill has no chance in Congress, like most of the legislation he has introduced, but there are people running for the Vermont legislature, like Matt Birong in Vergennes, who pride themselves on being in lock step with Sanders, “its pretty much boom, boom, boom, boom, boom right down the line where I philosophically and ideologically align with him (Sanders)” People like Birong, if he were to be elected (beating Warren Van Wyck), could inflict real damage in Vermont by pushing for similar tax policies at the state level, especially if Scott loses, or if the Republicans lose a few seats and can no longer sustain Scott’s vetoes.

  6. Yup, Bernie he must think he’s on ” Saturday Night Live ” stating his new bill the ” Bezos Bill ”
    named after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos because Socialist Sanders want some of the money that
    was earned by a man that started a business and has achieved great success ( billions)

    If the workers feel slighted by working at Amazon, then find a new job !! Just get into politics
    hell, we pay Sanders $174 for what ??

    What has Socialist Sanders ever accomplished other the fleecing the taxpayers for a paycheck
    and from what I see it’s a bad investment for taxpayers !!

    Bernie ” Soapbox ” Sanders sure can talk a good game on what to do with other peoples money
    socialist through and through.

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