When Bernie goes up against Be­zos

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - OPINION -

Sen. Bernie San­ders, I-Ver­mont, and our edi­to­rial board don’t of­ten find our­selves in agree­ment. But we both have a great dis­like for cor­po­rate wel­fare.

How­ever, San­ders’ lat­est at­tempt at tack­ling crony cap­i­tal­ism misses the mark en­tirely.

The Stop Bad Em­ploy­ers by Ze­ro­ing Out Sub­si­dies, or, Stop BE­ZOS Act, would, ac­cord­ing to Vox, “en­act a tax on large cor­po­ra­tions equal to the fed­eral ben­e­fits their low-wage em­ploy­ees re­ceive in or­der to make ends meet.”

The act is ob­vi­ously tar­geted at Ama­zon founder Jeff Be­zos. But large re­tail­ers such as Wal­mart would also likely see size­able tax penal­ties.

“In other words, the taxpayers of this coun­try would no longer be sub­si­diz­ing the wealth­i­est peo­ple in this coun­try who are pay­ing their work­ers in­ad­e­quate wages,” San­ders said in an­nounc­ing the bill, as re­ported by the Wash­ing­ton Post. “De­spite low unem­ploy­ment, we end up hav­ing tens of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans work­ing at wages that are just so low that they can’t ad­e­quately take care of their fam­i­lies.”

It would likely do real harm to those low-wage work­ers the San­ders bill os­ten­si­bly means to pro­tect. The bill is akin to a min­i­mum wage in­crease by other means. If the em­ployer raises wages, it won’t be pe­nal­ized. But, as we’ve al­ready seen with in­creases to the min­i­mum wage, the more likely out­come is that em­ploy­ers just won’t take a risk on un­skilled en­trylevel la­bor and those much­needed jobs will go to more skilled em­ploy­ees who can com­mand higher wages or will be re­placed by au­to­ma­tion.

A much bet­ter tar­get for San­ders’ ire would be the nu­mer­ous other di­rect ben­e­fits ma­jor cor­po­ra­tions re­ceive from govern­ment. That can come in any num­bers of ways, from oc­cu­pa­tional li­cens­ing rules that pro­tect es­tab­lished busi­ness over new­com­ers and other reg­u­la­tory bur­dens to even more di­rect sub­si­dies like tax breaks.

On that front, Ama­zon has been mas­ter­ful at ma­nip­u­lat­ing cities, coun­ties and states to of­fer mil­lions, even bil­lions worth of sub­si­dies, from tax cred­its to prop­erty-tax abate­ments to spe­cial work­arounds of oner­ous reg­u­la­tions and per­mit­ting schemes to land the com­pany’s HQ2.

Maybe San­ders should look into that. It’s some­thing we could agree on.

— Los An­ge­les Daily News,

Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

A much bet­ter tar­get for San­ders’ ire would be the nu­mer­ous other di­rect ben­e­fits ma­jor cor­po­ra­tions

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