Kshama Sawant on taxing Amazon to solve Seattle’s housing crisis

In an exclusive interview, Councilmember Sawant outlines the stark economic inequities in Seattle and across the country.

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Freddie Stuart Aaron White Kshama Sawant
7 July 2020, 11.30pm
Kshama Sawant speaking at an affordable housing town hall, Seattle WA, April 23 2015
Public Domain

This interview is part of ourEconomy’s series on the US election.

Kshama Sawant is a socialist member of the Seattle City Council.

Elected in 2013, Sawant has championed increasing the minimum wage, taxing the city’s largest corporations, and guaranteeing affordable housing for all Seattleites.

In 2018, Sawant was one of only two voices on the City Council to vote in favor of a head tax, which would have seen Amazon pay the city $11 million annually to fund public housing and homeless services.

In response, Amazon spent an unprecedented $1.5 million to defeat her reelection bid in 2019. Sawant ultimately beat this exorbitant campaign and is currently serving her third term in office.

This week, the Seattle City Council approved a JumpStart tax – obligating Amazon to pay 2.4% for employees making over $400,000. This progressive tax will generate upwards of $200 million a year which will be allocated for Covid-19 relief and affordable housing.

We spoke with Sawant several months ago about the intersecting crises of homelessness and healthcare in Seattle and across the US.

The full interview is available below, as well as on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Soundcloud.

Where next for Labour in England?

The Labour party suffered across the UK last week, losing the Hartlepool by-election and a swathe of council seats in England, and getting its lowest ever vote share in a Scottish parliament election. How should it respond?

Join us for a live discussion on 13 Thursday, May at 5pm UK time.

Hear from:

Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South and former leadership contender

Jeremy Gilbert, Co-author of ‘Hegemony Now: Power in the Twenty-First Century’

Maddy Kirkman, Labour candidate for Edinburgh Central, disability rights and tenants union activist

Chair, Caroline Molloy, editor, openDemocracyUK

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