Bernie Sanders has a fantastic idea: Tax corporations whose employees are paid so little that they qualify for government assistance
There are legitimately hard feelings many have over how the 2016 Democratic Primary turned out, from both Hillary and Bernie supporters. But, whether you support Bernie Sanders or not, the man has some good ideas. This is one of them.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced on Friday that he will introduce legislation next month that would impose “a 100 percent tax on large employers equal to the amount of federal benefits received by their low-wage workers” in an effort to pressure corporate giants into paying a living wage.
Under the new legislation, “if an Amazon worker receives $300 in food stamps, Amazon would be taxed $300,” the Vermont senator’s office noted in a press release. The tax would apply to all companies with 500 or more employees.
The real beauty of this proposal is the simplicity. All the government needs to do is ask anyone who has qualified for government assistance who they work for, then send that company the bill, provided that company employs more than 500 people. What could be easier? What could be more just?
These corporations are, in effect, being subsidized by taxpayer dollars whenever one of their employees has to go to the government for assistance in making ends meet. Why should taxpayers be paying to subsidize these companies? That is not capitalism. That is corporate welfare.
So, one might ask, what would this measure accomplish? Well, if corporations are going to have to pay for their employee’s government assistance anyway, it would make more sense for the corporations to simply pay their employees enough that they would no longer qualify for government assistance, to save their employees from the indignity of having to go to the government for the assistance in the first place. Now, one could ask, would these corporations do that? What difference would it make to them? They’re paying for it either way? Maybe they would just take the chance that some employees don’t go to the government for help? Well, maybe some might. But if any corporations instead choose the route of increasing wages, that would certainly put corporations who don’t increase wages at a major disadvantage in hiring and retaining employees. It won’t take long for most, if not all, to decide it is better to just pay their employees more to begin with.
In addition, this is not some revolutionary socialist policy to have employers pay the cost of their employees’ social safety net. Employers already pay into each State’s unemployment fund for each employee, and employers already pay a portion of each of their employees’ payroll taxes to fund social security and medicare. This would actually be less socialist than those employer payments because an employer could simply opt out by increasing the wage of their employees.
And, let’s face it, that is really what this country needs right now: wage growth. The stagnation of wages in America over the last 40 years has been a defining issue in American society. It, in effect, led to the rise of Donald Trump, as a large segment of the American population has decided to blame wage stagnation not on the corporations that are growing rich off their low-paid labor, but instead on foreign countries’ trade policies or immigrants. We can argue about who to blame all we want, but really, the best way to win the argument is to actually fix the problem. So any policy which could stimulate wage growth, whether it be increasing union membership, increasing the minimum wage, or this proposal from Bernie Sanders, should be pursued.
This is how to actually Make America Great Again.