To presidential hopefuls in the leftmost wing of the Democratic party, Big Tech is a late capitalist Superfund site begging to be dredged. But Joe Biden is cheerfully wading right into the muck.
On Friday, Biden appeared at the home of David Zapolsky, Amazon’s general counsel, to drum up funds for his centrist gambit for the presidency.
“I'm in the House of Amazon here," Biden said at the fundraiser, his second of the day in the Seattle area. He offered a mild critique of Amazon’s sweeping transformation of global commerce—a stark contrast with anti-corporate crusaders like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“Seriously, think of the change that is taking place and why people are frightened. Nothing bad — you’ve done good things. But 200,000 salespeople are out of work because people are shopping online now,” Biden said, according to reporting from The Seattle Times. The publication described the former vice president’s tone as “more pleading than scolding.”
Biden later moved on to more comfortable topics under the roof of Amazon, revisiting his own credentials and again making the argument that Republicans, out from under Trump’s thrall if Democrats win in 2020, would be more likely to cooperate on bipartisan efforts.
Zapolsky, his host, served as Amazon counsel for 20 years, steering Amazon through various regulatory hurdles and navigating the legal intricacies of the nearly trillion dollar company’s notoriously thorny labor and employment practices. In May, Zapolsky and four other Amazon executives donated to Rep. David Cicilline, a major tech critic and chair of the House antitrust subcommittee, two months before Amazon appeared before the committee as part of a House antitrust probe into big tech companies.
While Warren has made taking Big Tech down a notch a cornerstone of her campaign, Sanders also has a long history of Amazon-specific ire. Last year, Sanders invited Amazon workers to share their experiences working for the company, criticizing one of “the wealthiest corporations in the world” for low wages and unjust labor practices. He even introduced legislation to tax corporations for the federal assistance their low-wage workers seek to make ends meet, a bill he named the “Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies” (BEZOS) act in a pointed dig at Amazon’s chief executive—the second richest man in the world.