Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren came to Long Island City on Friday night striking a high note with Amazon opponents as she boasted a presidential campaign free of wealthy and PAC donors, with a plan that would hold big corporations accountable.
Warren, one of more than a dozen Democrats running for president next year, told a crowd of about 500 fans about some points of her plan revealed earlier that day that would curtail the way in which tech giants plow over competition, hurting small and medium-sized business.
“I want a government that isn’t here to work for giant tech companies. I want a government that’s here to work for the people. And today, I made a down payment on that. It is time to break up America’s tech giants,” Warren said. “My view on this is you can be an umpire, and you can own a team, but you can’t do both at the same time.”
Warren laid blame on Amazon for allowing small-time sellers to use their platform, then taking data to determine how profitable their products are before producing the item themselves and bumping the original seller down on the search order.
If elected president, Warren said that her administration will promote more competition by specifically breaking up Amazon, Facebook and Google as well as strengthening unions.
“When I was a girl, a minimum wage full-time job in America would support a family of three. Today a minimum wage job in America will not keep a mama and a baby out of poverty,” Warren said before commenting on Amazon’s reluctance to allow collective bargaining in their labor.
“We’ve got to change the rules in this economy… We’ve got these giant corporations – do I have to tell this to folks in Long Island City? – that think they can just come in and roll over everyone. They think they can roll over workers… They think they can roll over local government.”
The night at the Arc at 36-30 36th St. may not been how Amazon itself pictured Long Island City after their proposal to build a campus in Anable Basin.
The corporate giant had been promised a combined tax incentive of $3 billion from both the city and the state on the condition that they create the promised 25,000 to 40,000 jobs and return of about $27 billion in economic gains over the next decade. Amazon withdrew those plans on Feb. 14 after hearing vocal opposition to the deal set last November.
While several polls showed Amazon’s a campus to be a popular prospect, some still viewed the arrangement as a backroom deal. That’s something which Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul denied in an interview with QNS; she said this misconception was little more than what any company can expect to gain through Excelsior tax credits.
Warren was further critical of Amazon’s tactics in deciding on a location to establish a campus by pitting different states against one another for what she described as the best deal.
The $3 billion offered to Amazon by New York was comparatively small to Maryland, which offered them $8.5 billion in incentives, or New Jersey which offered $7 billion. Tennessee also made an offer to Amazon for HQ2, but is reportedly withholding the details of their proposal for the next five years.
Two local critics in government were at Warren’s March 8 rally: state Senator Michael Gianaris, who was Amazon’s most powerful opponent having been appointed to the Public Authorities Control Board not long after their proposal; and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who has been criticized strongly by Amazon supporters such as John Brown Smokehouse owner Josh Bowen.
Bowen has been featured on Fox News where he spoke about the jobs killed by the Amazon opposition and there is currently a community effort to raise a primary challenge against Gianaris.