“America’s billionaires could pay for a major Covid relief bill and still not lose a dime of their pre-virus riches.”
By Jake Johnson
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.
BREAKING: U.S. billionaires have grown their collective wealth by $1 trillion since mid-March. That's more than it would cost to send a $3,000 stimulus check to every person in America.
— Americans For Tax Fairness (@4TaxFairness) December 9, 2020
“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.