Democrats Demand Higher Taxes As Bezos Launches Into Space

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Prominent Democrats are demanding that wealthy Americans pay more in taxes following Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos’ successful Blue Origin space launch.

Bezos and three other passengers, including 82 year-old Wally Funk, who became the oldest person to reach outer space, lifted off from Van Horn, Texas at 9:12 am EST on Tuesday and returned to Earth shortly thereafter. Bezos had been competing with fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Elon Musk to reach space first, although Branson won the informal contest July 11.

Rather than celebrate the accomplishment, however, prominent Democrats, including many members of Congress, claimed that Bezos’ space launch was proof that billionaires should be taxed more. Bezos is worth more than $200 billion, according to Forbes, and spent about $5.5 billion on the launch. (RELATED: ‘Incredible’: President Trump Hails NASA, SpaceX For Successful Launch)

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know it’s time for billionaires to pay their fair share,” Assistant Speaker of the House and Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark tweeted.

“It’s time for billionaires like Jeff Bezos to pay their fair share,” Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern added.

Democratic Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal used the launch to push her wealth tax proposal, claiming that Bezos was avoiding paying his “fair share” in taxes. Bezos makes most of his money through capital gains on stock, which is not liquid and is taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income.

Jayapal’s Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act, introduced alongside Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, would create a new tax on households worth more than $50 million. Economists have panned the proposal for its likely negative impact on growth and wages. Law professors have argued that it is unconstitutional.

Warren also called for a wealth tax, although she did not mention Bezos’ launch in her tweet.

Robert Reich, who served as Labor Secretary under President Bill Clinton, claimed that “no one needs Bezos to launch rockets into outer space.”

Democratic Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer announced a new bill that would tax flights like Bezos’, the Securing Protections Against Carbon Emissions (SPACE) Tax Act.

“Space exploration isn’t a tax-free holiday for the wealthy. Just as normal Americans pay taxes when they buy airline tickets, billionaires who fly into space to produce nothing of scientific value should do the same, and then some,” he said in a press release.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched astronauts into space from US soil in 2020 for the first time in nine years. NASA partnered with Musk’s SpaceX to deliver the astronauts to the International Space Station, the first time that a non-governmental entity launched humans into space.