We are facing an unprecedented public-health and economic crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has already killed nearly 200,000 Americans and infected more than 6 million. Tens of millions of Americans have filed for unemployment, 12 million are newly uninsured, 40 million face the threat of eviction, and almost 30 million are struggling with hunger.
And yet—unbelievably—at a time when a deadly virus continues to rage across our country, 1 in 7 Americans say they would avoid seeing a doctor because they’re afraid of outrageous medical bills. Meanwhile, from March to August, the richest American billionaires on average accumulated nearly $5 billion in new wealth every day.
In my view, the solution to the outrageous inequality on one hand, and the dire, unmet medical needs on the other, is straightforward: We must tax the billionaire class’ obscene gains in wealth during this pandemic in order to provide free medical care to all of our people for the duration of this national emergency.
That is why I and colleagues introduced the Make Billionaires Pay Act in August. Our legislation would impose a 60% tax on the obscene wealth gains billionaires have made during this extraordinary crisis. Between mid-March and early August, 467 billionaires—the top 0.0001%— increased their wealth by $731.8 billion. A 60% tax on just five months of wealth gains by these billionaires would fund the $400 billion it would take for Medicare to cover every American’s out-of-pocket health expenses for an entire year.