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Kshama Sawant: Council decision to pause debate on Amazon tax is ‘Orwellian’

Seattle Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales. (Seattle Channel)

Councilmember Kshama Sawant spoke out Monday against a recent decision to pause debate on her proposed big business tax, labeling the move as “Orwellian.”

Kshama Sawant: Amazon tax ‘only thing’ that can rescue Seattle economy

“This action is disguised as some sort of responsible governance, but in reality, it is the Democratic establishment at the City and State levels colluding with big business in an attempt to undercut the momentum of the Amazon Tax movement,” Sawant said in a news release.

Council President Lorena González and Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda halted any debate on the business tax last week, after concerns were raised that it violated one of the governor’s emergency pandemic proclamations.

As of publishing, the measure is on hold through at least the end of May. Sawant and co-sponsor Tammy Morales had hoped to use it to levy a 1.3% tax on the top 2% of Seattle businesses, and then distribute a series of $500 checks to city residents hit hardest by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. After the outbreak is over, the tax would then fund affordable housing and Green New Deal policies.

The measure has garnered criticism from Mayor Jenny Durkan, who pointed out recently that the tax wouldn’t actually start to raise money until 2021, and in the short term would be borrowing funds from existing city programs.

Beyond that, Durkan raised concerns about the ability to project revenue from the tax given the uncertainty presented by businesses being closed during the state’s ongoing stay-at-home order.

Sawant pushes Amazon tax to raise $500 million for coronavirus relief

Sawant claimed Monday that opposition from Durkan — as well as from Gonzalez and fellow Councilmember Lisa Herbold — is part of a larger bid from the city’s establishment Democrats to kill the bill.

“Seattle’s Democratic establishment has been looking to stymie our movement’s momentum,” she stated. “With Councilmembers González and Herbold leading the charge, they are shamefully using the pandemic and Inslee’s emergency order as cover for defending big business.”

“Our movement knows the real reason why the council president has taken this step: She, along with the political establishment, recognize the growing momentum and power of our movement,” Sawant added.

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