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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/25/21

Pandemic Profiteers: How U.S. Billionaires Like Amazon's Jeff Bezos Saw Wealth Grow by $1.3 Trillion

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A new report reveals that as a record number of people in the United States lost their jobs and struggled to put food the table during the past year of the pandemic, the combined wealth of the 657 billionaires in the country grew more thonan $1.3 trillion, nearly 45%, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who saw his personal wealth increase by $65 billion more than $7 million every hour.

"They are often leading companies who have benefited from the pandemic conditions by having, essentially, their competition shut down," says Chuck Collins, author of the report on pandemic profiteers by the Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness. "These folks have reaped enormous windfalls in this pandemic." The massive gains come as pressure grows on lawmakers to impose new taxes on the top 1%, with both Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders proposing new measures to address growing economic inequality.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: Well, it's been a year of pain for so many, and massive gains for a select few billionaires. We begin today's show looking at a new report that names the biggest pandemic profiteers over the past year. As unemployment surged at the start of the lockdowns, the Institute for Policy Studies began working with Americans for Tax Fairness to track the wealth growth of U.S. billionaires. They've just published their findings that show the combined wealth of the 657 billionaires in the country grew more than $1.3 trillion, nearly 45%, since the pandemic began.

This comes as a record number of people in the United States lost their jobs and struggled to put food on the table. Food banks reported massive lines, and mutual aid groups popped up across the United States to help those in need. This is Harlem resident Ruth Crawford, speaking from a food bank last Thanksgiving.

RUTH CRAWFORD: You have to try to relax and think of the better things, because it wasn't always like this. But this is getting to people, and it's just sad. I mean, you work all the time, and then you can't go to work, or you can't work from home. So it's not easy.

AMY GOODMAN: Billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg all saw their bank accounts swell amidst the global crisis. This month, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and others proposed an "ultra-millionaire" tax to tax fortunes above $50 million. Senator Sanders hosted a hearing on the inequality crisis last week.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: We'll be asking about how it happens that the top one-tenth of 1% now owns more wealth than the bottom 90% one-tenth of 1%, more wealth than the bottom 90% and two individuals, Bezos and Musk, now own more wealth than the bottom 40%. And meanwhile, we're looking at more hunger in America than at any time in decades.

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