As millions of Americans call for further stimulus checks and a growing number of lawmakers urge President Biden to support more direct payments, billionaires' pandemic profits alone could easily fund two more direct payments to all Americans with change left to spare.
Congress has thus far approved three rounds of direct stimulus checks since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the first for $1,200 being approved in March 2020 followed by a second payment of $600 in December. Under President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan, which was passed and signed in March, most Americans received another $1,400 payment. Now more than 2 million Americans have signed a Change.org petition calling for recurring monthly stimulus checks of $2,000 as dozens of lawmakers have urged Biden to support a similar proposal.
Meanwhile, data from Forbes—which tracks the net worths of the wealthy—finds that America's 722 billionaires saw their wealth grow by 35 percent between January of last year and April 28 of this year. Their collective net worths have increased from $3.4 trillion to $4.6 trillion today—a dramatic rise of some $1.2 trillion.
Considering the total U.S. population is estimated to be about 328 million people, that would mean billionaires' pandemic profits could easily fund two more checks of $1,400 for every single American with a significant amount of money left to spare. In fact, if the $1.2 trillion were equally divided among all Americans, that would be enough for every single American to receive three payments of a little more than $1,200 or one single payment of just over $3,600.
While it appears unlikely that there is enough political will to redistribute the pandemic gains of the nation's few hundred wealthiest citizens, this simple analysis highlights the dramatic and rapidly growing inequality within the country. As millions of Americans lost their jobs, struggled to pay rent, and went hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic—a relatively small number of the wealthiest Americans saw their wealth grow by unprecedented amounts.