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De Blasio Campaign Press Release - De Blasop Campaign Launches "Robot Tax" as Part of Aggressive Plan to Protect Workers from Threat of Automation

September 05, 2019

NEW YORK—The de Blasio campaign today unveiled a new automation policy to protect working people whose livelihoods are threatened by the unchecked growth of automation, the farthest reaching proposal of any 2020 candidate to address technology-related job losses.

"Generations of working Americans greeted technological advancement in the workplace with hope instead of fear because they knew it complemented good-paying jobs instead of replacing them," said Bill de Blasio. "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. 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."

The de Blasio plan contains several major proposals to address automation. Firstly, it would create a new agency, the Federal Automation and Worker Protection Agency (FAWPA), with broad authority to regulate the widespread growth of automation and oversee its impact on working people. Any major company seeking to increase automated operations would be required to seek a permit from FAWPA with approval conditioned on the company's plans to protect existing workers, either by ensuring they receive new jobs with similar pay or severance packages that reflect their tenure of service to the company.

FAWPA would also oversee consumer protections and public safety regulations that would result from automation in fields such as driverless vehicles.

The proposal would also close tax loopholes like the "accelerated depreciation" loophole and others that allow corporations to invest in automation and then deduct those investments from their taxes, even if such automation investments would destroy their employees' jobs.

It would further institute a "robot tax," similar to what has been proposed by luminaries such as Bill Gates, on large companies in an attempt to slow the rate of job losses due to automation and hasten the creation of more secure jobs. Corporations that automate procedures which eliminate jobs and fail to provide adequate replacement employment would be required to pay the equivalent of five years worth of payroll taxes up front for each worker whose job is eliminated.

Using the new revenue streams created from the closed tax loopholes and the "robot tax," FAWPA would facilitate the creation of new, high-paying union jobs in crucial fields such as green energy, health care, and early childhood education. Workers displaced by automation would go to the front of the line for these new positions at comparable salaries to their previous jobs.

Automation may be the largest threat facing the American workforce today. Roughly one quarter of U.S. employees face "high exposure" to the automation of their jobs in the coming decades, a Brookings Institution report states. And according to a McKinsey study, by 2030, as many as one-third of American jobs may disappear because of automation.

Addressing the threat of automation to the workforce has been a longstanding concern of Mayor de Blasio's. Last week, the Mayor visited the Port of Los Angeles. Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union at the Port recently engaged in an action to prevent their jobs from being replaced by automated container moving vehicles. In New York City, Mayor de Blasio has capped the number of Uber vehicles in the city and taken steps to protect rank and file taxi drivers.

More information: de Blasio Automation Plan

Bill de Blasio, De Blasio Campaign Press Release - De Blasop Campaign Launches "Robot Tax" as Part of Aggressive Plan to Protect Workers from Threat of Automation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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