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Tax the Rich

Demonstrators gathered in Times Square in New York City on July 27, 2021 to participate in a "Tax the Rich Game Show" and demand higher taxes on big corporations and wealthy people. (Photo: Tax March)

At Times Square Rally, Activists Demand Congress 'Tax the Rich'

"If billionaires can afford to go to space, they can afford to pay their fair share."

Brett Wilkins

A coalition of progressive advocacy groups on Tuesday rallied in New York's Times Square, where they hosted a "Tax the Rich Game Show" and demanded that corporations and wealthy people pay their fair share of taxes.

"Jeff Bezos can't hitchhike to space on the backs of hardworking Americans. It's time to #TaxTheRich."
—Tax March

The event—which was hosted by Tax March, Patriotic Millionaires, Strong Economy for All, and New York Communities for Change with support from a dozen other national economic justice groups—decried the so-called "Billionaire Space Race" between former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson.

The activists unveiled a billboard in the famous square that reads: "1 Billionaire Pays 1 Billion per Year to Spend 10 Minutes in Space. His Tax Rate? 1%. Tax the Rich."

The demonstrators called on Congress to raise corporate and capital gains taxes, and to lower taxes on American families by extending the Child Tax Credit. Recent surveys (pdf) show strong support across the political spectrum for higher taxes on corporations and the rich.

"Why do we need to tax the rich?" asked New York Communities for Change organizer Jamell Henderson during a speech at the event. "I see a lot of construction workers out there. NYC is a union town is it not? NYC is an education town, we have some of the best teachers, but they're not treated the same as whitey on the moon!"

Henderson was referring to the Gil Scott-Heron spoken word poem "Whitey on the Moon," which was released in 1970 amid the Apollo moon landings.

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) issued a statement about the protest linking tax, racial, and climate justice.

"I believe that our nation is in the midst of a reckoning across our civil society, which has been brought about not only by the interrelated crises of Covid-19 and the ensuing economic hardship, but also as a direct result of the enduring crises that we have faced for countless years with racial injustice and climate change," she said.

Clarke said the U.S. needs "a national Renewable Energy Standard that places renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar, at the center of our transformation to a carbon-free energy sector. And we must ensure that these renewable resources are deployed in and around the environmental justice communities who have been most harmed by our current system. That's why I am proud to have recently introduced the American Renewable Energy Act (pdf) that will set our nation on the path to 70% renewable electricity generation by 2030."

Tax March executive director Maura Quint said in a statement that "while billionaires are taking 10-minute joyrides in space, too many everyday Americans here on Earth are struggling. Yet the ultra-wealthy aren't even asked to do the bare minimum in our society: Pay their fair share in taxes."

"We're here to say that needs to change now," Quint added. "For years, we've been calling on Congress to tax the rich, and now there's a real opportunity to take a step toward a fairer tax code. President [Joe] Biden is behind it, and so are Democratic leaders in Congress. It's time to fulfill their promise and tax the rich now!"

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