Omar and Sanders propose taxing billionaires at 60% to pay for health care for a year

"This bill will go a long way towards addressing our nation’s massive wealth inequality and finally guaranteeing health care as a human right."

Image credit: Twitter via @IlhanMN

Rep. Ilhan Omar recently introduced legislation called the “Make Billionaires Pay Act,” which is designed to make billionaires pay for health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill would impose a 60% gains tax on everyone with $1 billion or more in assets, “tangible or intangible,” in order to “empower Medicare” to pay for all out-of-pocket health care expenses and prescriptions for everyone. 

“It is shameful that billionaires profit off the suffering of working families as the pandemic ravages the economy and kills thousands of Americans every day,” Omar said in a press release. “For far too long, the richest 0.001% of America have avoided paying their fair share in taxes.” 

The tax would apply to all gains in wealth made between March 18, 2020 and Jan. 1, 2021. Omar’s office said the tax would raise $421.7 billion in revenue, which is enough to pay for all of out-of-pocket expenses for everyone in America for an entire year.

“This bill will go a long way towards addressing our nation’s massive wealth inequality and finally guaranteeing health care as a human right,” Omar added. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders is carrying the bill in the Senate, as he did with a 2019 bill introduced by Omar in the House that would have canceled $1.6 trillion in student debt.

“The legislation I am introducing today will tax the obscene wealth gains billionaires have made during this extraordinary crisis to guarantee health care as a right to all for an entire year. At a time of enormous economic pain and suffering, we have a fundamental choice to make,” said Sanders.

“We can continue to allow the very rich to get much richer while everyone else gets poorer and poorer. Or we can tax the winnings a handful of billionaires made during the pandemic to improve the health and well-being of tens of millions of Americans,” he added. 

Sanders’s call for the tax prompted a wide variety of responses, including a claim from 2016 Minnesota Senate DFL candidate Shawn Olson that all gains in excess of $1 billion should be taken by the government.

Under the bill, Sanders said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the richest man in America, would pay a one-time wealth tax of $42.8 billion, while SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk would pay a one-time wealth tax of $27.5 billion.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg would pay a one-time wealth tax of $22.8 billion, said Sanders’s office.

“In my view, it is time for the Senate to act on behalf of the working class who are hurting like they have never hurt before, not the billionaire class who are doing phenomenally well and have never had it so good,” Sanders concluded.