As President Donald Trump and top members of his administration continue their push to deliver another round of tax cuts to rich investors, an analysis published Tuesday by the Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness showed that U.S. billionaires have seen their collective wealth soar by nearly $800 billion since Covid-19 began spreading rapidly across the country in March.
The new research found that between March 18 and August 20—a five-month period in which the economy tanked and tens of millions of people across the U.S. lost their jobs—the combined wealth of America's more than 600 billionaires jumped by $792 billion, bringing their collective net worth to a staggering $3.7 trillion.
"By demanding even more tax cuts for the rich at this crucial moment, President Trump shows he is as out of touch with our nation's needs as America's billionaires are disconnected from our nation's misery."
—Frank Clemente, Americans for Tax Fairness
"For billionaires, this is a heads we win, tails you lose economy, boosted by Trump policies to funnel wealth to the top," Chuck Collins, director of the IPS Program on Inequality, said in a statement.
Collins said the fact that just 12 U.S. billionaires now own more than a trillion dollars in combined wealth is "an unprecedented and disturbing indicator of the concentrated wealth during a pandemic." According to IPS, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos—the richest man in the world—has seen his wealth grow by $81.9 billion since mid-March, a bigger jump than any other U.S. billionaire.
The updated wealth figures came just hours before Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, boasted about the president's plan to slash the capital gains tax during a speech on the second night of the Republican National Convention Tuesday. The benefits of any cut to the capital gains tax would disproportionately flow to the wealthiest Americans.
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"Looking ahead, more tax cuts and regulatory rollback will be in store," said Kudlow. "Payroll tax cuts for higher wages, income tax cuts for the middle class. Capital gains tax cuts for investment, productivity, and jobs. Much more regulatory relief for small businesses."
Earlier this month, Trump himself vowed to slash the capital gains tax if reelected in November.
Larry Kudlow says Trump's re-election would usher in new tax cuts for middle class Americans and roll back regulations. He called out payroll and income tax cuts, and capital gains cuts.— Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV) August 26, 2020
The latest on the #RNC2020 https://t.co/AZIMmeMXYV pic.twitter.com/74y8NBEeUO
Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, said in a statement that "by demanding even more tax cuts for the rich at this crucial moment, President Trump shows he is as out of touch with our nation's needs as America's billionaires are disconnected from our nation's misery."
"The pandemic profiteering of America's billionaires shows taxes on the wealthy must go up substantially to narrow the wealth gap and raise revenue vital for our big climb back from disaster," Clemente added.