‘Pandemic Profits’ of Billionaires Could Fully Fund $3,000 Stimulus Checks for US Workers

“America’s billionaires could pay for a major Covid relief bill and still not lose a dime of their pre-virus riches.”

National Guard in distributing food with the Monterey County Food Bank in Castroville, CA, April 16, 2020. (Rep. Jimmy Panetta/ Wikimedia Commons)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

America’s 651 billionaires have gained so much wealth during the coronavirus pandemic that they could fully pay for one-time $3,000 stimulus checks for every person in the United States and still be better off than they were before the crisis.

That’s according to new research released Wednesday by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), groups that have been tracking the “pandemic profits” of U.S. billionaires since mid-March.

In the nearly nine-month period between March 18 and December 7, American billionaires gained more than $1 trillion in wealth as people across the U.S. lost their jobs, their businesses, their homes, and their lives to the pandemic. The collective net worth of U.S. billionaires now sits just above $4 trillion—nearly double the combined wealth owned by the bottom 50 percent of the American population.

“As tens of millions of Americans suffer from the health and economic ravages of this pandemic, a few hundred billionaires add to their massive fortunes,” ATF executive director Frank Clemente said in a statement. “Their pandemic profits are so immense that America’s billionaires could pay for a major Covid relief bill and still not lose a dime of their pre-virus riches.”

“Their wealth growth is so great,” Clemente added, “that they alone could provide a $3,000 stimulus payment to every man, woman, and child in the country, and still be richer than they were nine months ago.”

“I am being told that including another stimulus check is too expensive. Fine. Tax the rich and pay for it.” —Rep. Tlaib

The new research comes as congressional negotiators have not committed to including direct stimulus checks of any size in the relief package that’s being hashed out just weeks away from the end of the year, when dozens of key federal safety net programs are set to expire.

Amid opposition by Republicans—who are insisting on keeping the final bill’s price tag below $1 trillion—Democratic lawmakers led by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in the House and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the Senate are demanding the inclusion of another round of stimulus checks on top of a weekly increase in unemployment benefits and additional relief measures.

On Tuesday, as Common Dreams reported, Sanders and five Senate Democrats circulated a letter (pdf) calling for one-time payments of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. In a letter of their own on Tuesday, Omar and nearly 60 other House Democrats warned that excluding direct payments from relief legislation would “leave behind tens of millions of people who have lost income as well as many struggling individuals who cannot work and those left out of federal support programs.”

“I am being told that including another stimulus check is too expensive,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), a signatory of the House letter, tweeted Tuesday. “Fine. Tax the rich and pay for it.”

In the wake of the Democratic lawmakers’ demands, the Trump White House put forth a proposal that would provide a round of direct stimulus payments amounting to $600 per adult and $600 per child in the place of a weekly boost in unemployment benefits.

Democrats immediately rejected the administration’s proposed trade-off as “unacceptable” and “atrocious,” warning that one-time payments are not an adequate substitute for a weekly benefit increase for millions of jobless Americans.

5 comments for “‘Pandemic Profits’ of Billionaires Could Fully Fund $3,000 Stimulus Checks for US Workers

  1. DH Fabian
    December 10, 2020 at 18:45

    This is what I find most disturbing about today’s liberals. US workers don’t need those welfare checks. They still have paychecks. It’s the jobless who need relief, regardless of the reasons they were left jobless. (I shouldn’t need to explain that “workers” refers to the currently employed, while those who become jobless are the unemployed.) US job losses had surpassed job gains well before the pandemic, and we just turn our backs on them. There’s nothing special about the latest batch. In that celebrated spirit of equality, we must treat them like those who became jobless before them.

  2. Deborah Andrew
    December 10, 2020 at 17:06

    What do we come face to face with when we know the extent of the wealth of 15 people that would enable them to freely give $3,000 to each and every individual living in the US and still have had their wealth increase since March? What do we come face to face with when we realize this? What have both political parties colluded in the creation of both public and foreign policies that allowed and encouraged the creation of such wealth in the hands of so few while also creating the extraordinary numbers of children who go hungry, the number of families on the brink of food insecurity, the huge numbers of homeless children and families, the proliferation of weapons around the globe that add to the increasing numbers of refugees – men, women, children who are perpetually homeless, hungry, destitute. How is it that our culture has supported this enormous tragedy? Without Rashida Taib, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Barbara Lee and others in the Squad who are willing to speak the truth, publicly, vigorously, courageously we could not have hope.

  3. Gerald Webb
    December 10, 2020 at 11:49

    You just can’t make this stuff up!
    Their needs to be a complete routing of the political establishment in the US, as well as across Europe.
    Both left & right

  4. Sally
    December 10, 2020 at 10:00

    $23,000 a second for the Pentagon. but $1200 for americans for covid relief is too much.

    • Lynn Abbott
      December 10, 2020 at 12:27

      Right on.

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