Bernie Sanders, and three senators led by the former Democratic presidential hopeful, have grabbed attention on a global level for the introduction of the "Make Billionaires Pay Act" which aims at taxing top billionaire US tech leaders billions of dare for the wealth earned during the coronavirus pandemic.
The act would levy a one-time 60 percent tax on wealth acquired by billionaires between March 18, 2020, and January 1, 2021. "Over and over again, we have been told that we cannot possibly afford to guarantee healthcare as a right by moving to a Medicare for All system - even on a temporary basis during the worst public health emergency in over a hundred years. Well, it turns out that is not quite accurate," wrote Sanders in a post.
Paying for Public Healthcare With Levied Tax
Riding growing global despair about inequity, the Senators suggest that funds would be used to pay for out-of-pocket health-care expenses for all Americans for a year. Besides Sanders, the Senators are Ed Markey and Kirsten Gillibrand.
"While a record-breaking 5.4 million Americans recently lost their health insurance, 467 billionaires in our country increased their wealth by an estimated $731.8 billion during the pandemic. Incredibly, as a result of the Trump tax giveaway to the rich, these billionaires currently pay a lower effective tax rate than teachers or truck drivers," the Senator wrote further.
Citing the Americans for Tax Fairness and Institute for Policy, Sanders said: "If we taxed 60 percent of the windfall gains these billionaires made from March 18th until August 5th, we could raise $421.7 billion. That's enough revenue to allow Medicare to pay all of the out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for everyone in America over the next 12 months (based on an estimate from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget).
"Yes, that's right. By taxing 60 percent of the wealth gains made by just 467 billionaires during this horrific pandemic, we could guarantee healthcare as a right for an entire year. And billionaires would still be able to pocket more than $310.1 billion in wealth gains during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression."
Elon Musk Hits Back
Illustrative examples cited include Jeff Bezos, whose wealth has gone up by 63 percent or $71.3 billion during the pandemic, paying a one-time wealth tax of $42.8 billion; Elon Musk, whose wealth has nearly tripled during the pandemic from $24.6 billion to $70.5 billion, would pay a one-time wealth tax of $27.5 billion; Mark Zuckerberg, who is now worth $92.7 billion, up from $54.7 billion, would pay a one-time wealth tax of $22.8 billion and the Walton family, the wealthiest family in America, which has seen their wealth grow by $21.5 billion, would pay a one-time wealth tax of $12.9 billion.
"At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, when so many of our people are hurting, it is time to fundamentally change our national priorities. Instead of more tax breaks for the rich while more Americans die because they cannot afford to go to a doctor, let us expand Medicare and save lives by demanding that billionaires pay their fair share of taxes."
Aiming to distinguish the not-so-super-rich from their moves, those with a net worth of less than $1 billion wouldn't pay more in taxes. While Zuckerberg, Bezos and the Waltons haven't yet reacted, Musk took the challenge head-on, with a meme. "Everytime the Bernster mentions a free government program, chug somebody else's beer", the irrepressible billionaire tweeted back.
(With inputs from agencies)