Biden calls out US billionaire wealth surging $1.8 trillion during the pandemic: 'It's simply not fair'

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  • In a speech, Biden tore into surging wealth among billionaires during the pandemic.

  • He said "it's simply not fair" how wealthy Americans manage to evade taxes.

  • Fears about inequality in the US mounted during the pandemic as millions of Americans were jobless while stocks soared.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President Joe Biden slammed the surging amount of wealth held by American billionaires on Thursday as he made a renewed case to Congress to pass a $3.5 trillion social spending package containing the bulk of his economic priorities.

Biden delivered a 20-minute speech in which he condemned the widening inequality between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else.

"Billionaires have seen their wealth go up by $1.8 trillion," he said, referring to a recent report from Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies. "It's simply not fair."

He pressed lawmakers to include priorities like the expanded child tax credit, affordable childcare, and tuition-free community college in the bill Democrats are drafting to cut costs for families. He touted the provisions as a way to tilt the economic scales towards middle-class Americans after four decades of safety net cuts and tax cuts centered on wealthier Americans.

He also cited his proposal to beef up IRS enforcement, and his own Treasury Department's estimate that the wealthiest 1% of Americans dodge over $160 billion in taxes that they legally owe every year.

"I believe we're at an inflection point in this country - one of those moments where the decisions we're about to make can literally change the trajectory of our nation for years and possibly decades to come," Biden said.

Biden's speech comes a day after he met with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, a pair of moderates demanding cuts to the planned spending. The remarks suggest curbing inequality remains a focus for Biden as Congressional Democrats labor to approve the legislation later this month with a party-line majority vote using the reconciliation process, affording them a path to circumvent Republicans.

"I'm not out to punish anyone, I'm a capitalist," Biden said, before repeatedly saying he wants the wealthy to pay "their fair share."

Fears about inequality in the US mounted during the pandemic as millions of Americans remained jobless while the stock market surged ahead. The S&P 500 has locked in at least 50 record highs this year, according to Marketwatch.

While they disagree on the size of the tax hikes, many Democrats say they intend to carry them out for large firms and rich Americans to finance their plans to strengthen the safety net for families.

"There's no way to right the American economic ship if major corporations are paying nothing in taxes and plumbers in my state are paying a bigger percentage of income taxes than the bankers," Sen. Christopher Murphy of Connecticut recently told Insider. "From a moral and economic standpoint, it's the right thing to do to ask corporations, millionaires, and billionaires to do more. It's wildly politically popular."

Republicans have lined up in opposition to the plan, arguing the tax hikes would cost jobs and wreck the economic recovery. They're also opposed to undoing the 2017 GOP tax law, which largely slashed corporate taxes. Biden took an opportunity in the speech to rebuke his critics.

"We can build an economy that gives people a fair shot this time," he said. "We can restore some sanity and fairness in our tax code. We can make investments that are long overdue in this nation."

Read the original article on Business Insider