WASHINGTON, D.C. – Texas has 60 billionaires whose collective wealth has jumped by $42.8 billion, or 17.9%, since mid-March, roughly the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the state’s economy was reeling from a huge spike in joblessness and a collapse in taxes collected, according to a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).
Despite growing needs and economic hardship caused by the pandemic, President Trump and U.S. Senate Republicans have refused to pass another financial aid package to help working families and to maintain state and local public services. Instead, they have opted to focus on expediting the confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice before the election.
The $42.8 billion increase in wealth of the state’s billionaires over the last 7 months is nearly four times more than the $11.5 billion state revenue shortfallin 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
Between March 18—the rough start date of the pandemic shutdown, when most federal and state economic restrictions were put in place—and Oct. 13, the total net worth of the state’s billionaires rose from $238.9 billion to $296.4 billion, based on this analysis of Forbes data that is also available on page 4 below. Forbes’ annual billionaires report was published March 18, 2020, and the real-time data was collected Oct. 13 from the Forbes website.
Needless to say, ordinary workers did not fare as well. From mid-March to mid-September, the collective work income of rank-and-file private-sector employees—all hours worked times the hourly wages of the entire bottom 82% of the workforce—declined by 3.5%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics national data.
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While here in Texas:
- 821,110 fell ill with the virus and 16,995 died from it [Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center]
- 3,557,385 lost their jobs between March 21 and Sept. 26, 2020 [U.S. Department of Labor]
- 902,269 were collecting unemployment on Sept. 26, 2020 [U.S. Department of Labor]
- 6,451businesses closed [MSN Money]
- 22 million adults reported not having enough food in the past week between September 2-28, including 14 million with children in the household. Twelve percent of adults and 20% of adults living with children reported not having enough to eat. [Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, CBPP]
- 1 in 6 renters reported being behind on September rent payments, including 18%of Texas renters. [CBPP]
Low-wage workers, people of color and women have suffered disproportionately in the combined medical and economic crises because of long-standing racial and gender disparities. Blacks and Latinos are far more likely to become infected with Covid-19 and to die from the disease. Billionaires are overwhelmingly white men.
The total net worth of the nation’s 644 billionaires has risen by $931 billion, or nearly 32%, since March 18—from $2.95 trillion to $3.88 trillion (see spreadsheet of all billionaires).
“The wealth of the country’s nearly 650 billionaires keeps rising higher and higher, as the livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans keeps sinking lower from the failure of Washington to provide a new COVID-19 rescue package,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. “If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had put his energy into rushing through Congress a major coronavirus financial aid package months ago, like he’s rushing through this Supreme Court nomination, millions of Americans would have been spared financial hardship and countless small businesses would still be standing.”
“With Mitch McConnell’s Senate paralyzed with inaction, U.S. society is kicking into inequality overdrive, with wealth surging up to U.S. billionaires,” said Chuck Collins of the Institute for Policy Studies and co-author of Billionaire Bonanza 2020, a report looking at pandemic profiteering and billionaire wealth. “The juxtaposition between surging billionaire wealth and the imploding livelihoods of ordinary Americans is grotesque and unseemly.”
Some billionaires have seen a particularly astonishing increase in wealth:
- Jeff Bezos’s wealth grew from $113 billion on March 18 to $203 billion on Oct. 13, an increase of 80%.
- Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth grew from $54.7 billion on March 18 to $101 billion on Oct. 13, an increase of 85%.
- Elon Musk’s wealth grew from $24.6 billion on March 18 to $92.8 billion on Oct. 13, an increase of 277%.
The $931 billion wealth gain by billionaires since mid-March:
● Far exceeds the $300 billion in new pandemic relief proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), which the Senate failed to pass in September, four months after the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act in mid-May. McConnell has since expressed little interest in negotiating a deal with the House as many members of his caucus oppose any sizable new aid package.
- Is about 40% of the $2.2 trillion pandemic relief bill that passed the House of Representatives on Oct. 1.
- Exceeds the two-year estimated budget gap of all state and local governments, an estimate that ranges from$500 billion for all levels of government to perhaps$555 billion for states alone. By June, state and local governments had alreadylaid off 1.5 million workers and public services—especially education—faced steep budget cuts.
Without a federal fiscal relief package, workers will face even greater loss of jobs and services than has already occurred. The Economic Policy Institute predicts that in Texas 433,900 public-sector jobs employing teachers, public safety workers and health care workers, will be lost by the end of 2021 without more federal aid.
Even as the number of people without jobs and healthcare continues to rise, President Trump and Majority Leader McConnell continue to reject meaningful relief, opting instead to prioritize rushing the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent death.
The rushed confirmation of Barrett, a judge who is on the record opposing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), increases the likelihood that millions will lose healthcare and consumer protections for pre-existing conditions after the November elections, when the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear California v. Texas, the Trump-backed lawsuit to overturn the ACA.
Supreme Court repeal of the ACA could take health coverage away from 1,958,000 people in Texas, according to the Center for American Progress. It could also eliminate protections for 4,794,000 with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or alcohol or drug addiction, who could be denied coverage without the law, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s 28% of the state’s non-elderly population. At the same time that millions would lose coverage and protections, repealing the ACA would heap more wealth onto rich households and prescription drug corporations that already comprise the mostprofitable industry in the nation.
Repealing the ACA would give wealthy households making at least $3 million a year a $198,000 annual tax break, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Households making $1 million a year would get a $42,000 tax break. Prescription drug corporations would receive an additional $2.8 billion annually in tax breaks while seniors would face higher drug costs because of the roll back of ACA provisions that closed the Medicare Part D coverage gap.
The ACA has saved more than 11.8 million Medicare beneficiaries over $26.8 billion on prescription drugs – an average of $2,272 per beneficiary, between 2010 and 2016, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In Texas, 333,523 seniors each saved an average of $1,144 in just one year thanks to the ACA (2016 is the most recent year available). Currently, the price of prescription drugs is rising faster than any other medical good or service.
|TEXAS BILLIONAIRES MARCH 18 TO OCT. 13, 2020|
|Name||March 18 Net Worth (Millions)||October 13 Real Time Worth (Millions)||Wealth Growth in 7 Months (Millions)||% Growth in 7 Months||Primary Income Source||Industry|
|Alice Walton||$54,400||$67,887||$13,487||24.8%||Walmart||Fashion & Retail|
|Michael Dell||$22,900||$39,100||$16,200||70.7%||Dell computers||Technology|
|Charles Butt & family||N/A||$10,700||N/A||N/A||supermarkets||Fashion & Retail|
|Ann Walton Kroenke||$7,900||$9,081||$1,181||15.0%||Walmart||Fashion & Retail|
|Jerry Jones||$8,000||$8,615||$615||7.7%||Dallas Cowboys||Sports|
|Stanley Kroenke||$10,000||$8,284||-$1,716||-17.2%||sports, real estate||Sports|
|Andrew Beal||$7,900||$7,629||-$271||-3.4%||banks, real estate||Finance & Investments|
|Robert F. Smith||$5,000||$5,220||$220||4.4%||private equity||Finance & Investments|
|Robert Bass||$4,500||$4,733||$233||5.2%||oil, investments||Energy|
|Randa Duncan Williams||$3,600||$4,701||$1,101||30.6%||pipelines||Energy|
|Ray Lee Hunt||$4,400||$4,638||$238||5.4%||oil, real estate||Energy|
|Bert Beveridge||$3,200||$4,630||$1,430||44.7%||vodka||Food & Beverage|
|Mark Cuban||$4,300||$4,242||-$58||-1.4%||online media||Media & Entertainment|
|Tilman Fertitta||$4,300||$4,142||-$158||-3.7%||Houston Rockets, entertainment||Food & Beverage|
|Dan Friedkin||$3,300||$4,082||$782||23.7%||Toyota dealerships||Automotive|
|Margot Birmingham Perot||$4,000||$4,030||$30||0.8%||computer services, real estate||Technology|
|David Bonderman||$3,700||$3,957||$257||7.0%||private equity||Finance & Investments|
|Janice McNair||$4,000||$3,945||-$55||-1.4%||energy, sports||Sports|
|Robert Rowling||$2,500||$3,879||$1,379||55.2%||hotels, investments||Service|
|Trevor Rees-Jones||$3,700||$3,535||-$165||-4.5%||oil & gas||Energy|
|John Arnold||$3,300||$3,285||-$15||-0.5%||hedge funds||Finance & Investments|
|Thai Lee||$3,000||$3,235||$235||7.8%||IT provider||Technology|
|Drayton McLane, Jr.||$2,700||$2,910||$210||7.8%||Walmart, logistics||Fashion & Retail|
|John Paul DeJoria||$3,100||$2,686||-$414||-13.4%||hair products, tequila||Fashion & Retail|
|H. Ross Perot, Jr.||$2,000||$2,475||$475||23.8%||real estate||Real Estate|
|Brian Sheth||$2,200||$2,297||$97||4.4%||investments||Finance & Investments|
|Bill Austin||$2,100||$2,220||$120||5.7%||hearing aids||Manufacturing|
|Gerald Ford||$2,100||$2,165||$65||3.1%||banking||Finance & Investments|
|Sid Bass||$1,900||$2,105||$205||10.8%||oil, investments||Energy|
|George Bishop||$2,400||$2,049||-$351||-14.6%||oil & gas||Energy|
|Donald Horton||N/A||$2,045||N/A||N/A||homebuilding||Real Estate|
|Edward Bass||$1,800||$1,922||$122||6.8%||oil, investments||Energy|
|David Booth||$1,400||$1,791||$391||27.9%||mutual funds||Finance & Investments|
|Todd Wagner||$1,800||$1,775||-$25||-1.4%||online media||Media & Entertainment|
|Christopher Goldsbury||$1,700||$1,719||$19||1.1%||salsa||Food & Beverage|
|Leslie Alexander||$1,700||$1,704||$4||0.2%||sports team||Sports|
|W. Herbert Hunt||$1,400||$1,644||$244||17.5%||oil||Energy|
|Lee Bass||$1,800||$1,612||-$188||-10.4%||oil, investments||Energy|
|Stephen Winn||$1,400||$1,606||$206||14.7%||real estate services||Real Estate|
|Billy Joe (Red) McCombs||$1,400||$1,522||$122||8.7%||real estate, oil, cars, sports||Diversified|
|James Leininger||$1,500||$1,479||-$21||-1.4%||medical products||Healthcare|
|Paul Foster||$1,400||$1,469||$69||4.9%||oil refining||Energy|
|Leo Koguan||$1,400||$1,400||$0||0.0%||IT provider||Technology|
|Timothy Headington||$1,200||$1,351||$151||12.5%||oil & gas, investments||Energy|
|Jim Crane||$1,300||$1,346||$46||3.5%||logistics, baseball||Sports|
|Fayez Sarofim||$1,100||$1,341||$241||21.9%||money management||Finance & Investments|
|Farris Wilks||$1,200||$1,231||$31||2.6%||natural gas||Energy|
|Dan Wilks||$1,100||$1,074||-$26||-2.3%||natural gas||Energy|
|John Goff||N/A||$1,024||N/A||N/A||real estate||Real Estate|
|Wilbur ‘Ed’ Bosarge Jr||N/A||$1,000||N/A||N/A||high speed trading||Finance & Investments|