De Blasio proposes 'robot tax' to counter job losses from automation

New York City Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioProtesters splash red paint on NYC streets to symbolize blood De Blasio: Robert E Lee’s ‘name should be taken off everything in America, period’ House Democratic whip pushes back on calls to defund police: We need to focus on reform MORE on Thursday has unveiled a proposal for a “robot tax” and other measures to combat job losses due to increasing automation.  

Under the proposed tax, corporations that automate procedures resulting in job losses that do not provide “adequate replacement employment” would be required to pay five years of payroll taxes up front for each employee whose job is eliminated, according to a statement from de Blasio’s campaign. 

The mayor also said he would create a new agency called the Federal Automation and Worker Protection Agency (FAWPA) to regulate automation growth and oversee its effect on employment. In addition, he endorsed closing tax loopholes including the “accelerated depreciation” loophole that allow corporations to deduct certain investments from taxes. 

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De Blasio’s campaign said that new revenue streams from the tax and closing of loopholes would allow FAWPA to enable the creation of jobs in the green energy, health care and early childhood education fields. 

“But current automation practices are an existential threat to our nation’s workforce that destroys good jobs and directs more and more of the profits only to the wealthiest Americans,” de Blasio said in the statement. “My automation plan is the only one that would provide security for current workers and facilitates new, secure good-paying jobs for the next generation of working people.”

Job losses caused by automation have become a focus of the 2020 Democratic presidential race. Entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangGeorge Floyd protests show corporations must support racial and economic equality Andrew Yang discusses his universal basic income pilot program Andrew Yang on the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis MORE has been particularly vocal about the issue, embracing a monthly stipend of $1,000 for every American adult to reduce income inequality and balance the effects of automation.

Others including Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) have also discussed automation as a threat to workers. 

De Blasio is among the 20 people competing for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He did not qualify for the debate this month and has hinted he might exit the race if he does not make the October debate. 

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