‘He can afford to pitch in’: Elizabeth Warren slams Jeff Bezos for shooting himself into space while half of the US scrapes by

‘Billionaires who can afford to take a 10-minute joyride to outer space can afford to pay a wealth tax here on Earth’

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Monday 26 July 2021 17:14

Related Video: Jeff Bezos responds to critics of space ‘joyrides’: ‘They’re largely right’

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Elizabeth Warren took aim at Jeff Bezos on Sunday, saying if the richest man in the world could afford to go to space, he could afford to “pitch in” and pay more in taxes.

“The richest guy on Earth can launch himself into space while over half the country lives paycheck to paycheck, nearly 43 million are saddled with student debt, and child care costs force millions out of work,” the Massachusetts senator said in a tweet.

“He can afford to pitch in so everyone else gets a chance,” she added.

She later tweeted from her official Senate account: “Billionaires who can afford to take a 10-minute joyride to outer space can afford to pay a wealth tax here on Earth.”

Mr Bezos, the founder and former CEO of Amazon, is believed to have a net worth of $209.2bn, according to one calculation by Forbes. The Independent has contacted Mr Bezos for comment.

He successfully completed his first spaceflight on Tuesday on the rocket New Shepard, launching into space with three other passengers for three minutes of weightlessness in a total trip time of approximately 11 minutes.

ProPublica reported in June that in at least two years between 2006 and 2018, Mr Bezos paid $0 in federal income taxes in the US.

In 2019, Insider reported that Amazon also paid $0 in taxes in 2017 and 2018.

Senator Warren also fired out a pointed tweet at the billionaire after his spaceflight saying: “Jeff Bezos forgot to thank all the hardworking Americans who actually paid taxes to keep this country running while he and Amazon paid nothing.”

Mr Bezos founded his space exploration company Blue Origin in 2000 and is expected to spend more time focussed on the company now that he has stepped down from leading Amazon.

Following his trip to space Mr Bezos announced that he was donating $200m to philanthropic causes through a new “Courage and Civility Award” the recipients of which receive $100m.

Van Jones, the political commentator on CNN and co-founder of Dream Corps, and Jose Andres, the chef and humanitarian, were named as the first recipients of the award.

Ms Warren has long campaigned for the ultrawealthy to pay their fair share in tax to improve the lives of their fellow Americans.

One of the senator’s proposals would see the creation of a public alternative to college that would be paid for with a tax on ultra-millionaires.

Households with a net worth of more than $50m would pay an extra two per cent tax on every dollar of their net worth above that amount. Those with more than $1bn would pay an extra six per cent above that amount.

Americans with less than $50m net worth would pay no additional taxes. Senator Warren estimates that this could bring in $3.75 trillion in revenue over 10 years.

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