45 Percent Jump in Ohio Billionaire Wealth – Almost All Tax-Free – Shows Need for Biden’s Investment and Tax Plans

Groups Call on Senator Sherrod Brown to Support $3.5 Trillion Investment Agenda Now Before Congress Paid for by Taxing the Wealthy and Corporations

By Black Women Rising
Guest Column

Ohio’s eight billionaires increased their wealth during the pandemic by 45 percent, or almost half—from $12.8 billion since the start of the pandemic on March 18, 2020, to $18.6 billion on Aug. 17 of this year, according to a report from Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and Health Care for America Now (HCAN) analyzing Forbes wealth data and released by Black Women Rising. [See table below]

This billionaire bonanza demonstrates what’s wrong with our current economic and tax systems, as Democrats in Congress try to remedy some of the glaring inequities by advancing a $3.5 trillion budget package, which has passed the U.S. Senate. If it becomes law through the budget reconciliation process this fall, it will invest tens of billions of dollars in Ohio communities and working families by making healthcare, eldercare, childcare, housing and education more affordable, investing in clean energy, expanding the Child Tax Credit and providing 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. It will be paid for by making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share of taxes, and it will not raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000 a year.


Billionaire Net Worth

Mar. 18, 2020

($ Millions)

Net Worth

Aug. 17, 2021

($ Millions)

17 Month Wealth Growth

($ Millions)

17 Month % Wealth Growth Wealth Source Industry
OHIO TOTAL $12,800 $18,583 $5,783 45.2%    
Les Wexner $4,000 $6,262 $2,262 56.5% retail Fashion & Retail
Denise York $3,200 $3,973 $773 24.2% San Francisco 49ers Sports
Clayton Mathile $2,300 $2,300 $0 0.0% pet food Food & Beverage
August Troendle N/A $1,636 N/A N/A pharmaceutical services Healthcare
Norma Lerner $1,100 $1,133 $33 3.0% banking Finance & Investments
Nancy Lerner $1,100 $1,123 $23 2.1% banking, credit cards Finance & Investments
Randolph Lerner $1,100 $1,122 $22 2.0% banking, credit cards Finance & Investments
John McConnell & family N/A $1,034 N/A N/A steel Manufacturing

Sources: March 18, 2020 data: Forbes, “Forbes Publishes 34th Annual List Of Global Billionaires” March 18, 2020

August 17, 2021 data: Forbes, “The World’s Real-Time Billionaires, Today’s Winners and Losers,” accessed August 17, 2021

The report found that U.S. billionaire wealth overall grew by 62 percent during the pandemic, or by $1.8 trillion, rising from $2.95 trillion on March 18, 2020, to $4.77 trillion on Aug. 17, 2021, when there were 708 billionaires. That increased wealth, which will not be taxed unless billionaires sell their assets, would pay for more than half of Biden’s 10-year $3.5 trillion investment package.

“This report shows why we need the entire state congressional delegation, especially Senator Sherrod Brown, to support President Biden’s Build Back Better plan being debated in Washington right now,” said Bishop Marcia Dinkins, executive director, Black Women Rising. “That plan will invest $3.5 trillion in working families and our communities by making the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes. It will provide the funding we need to create thousands of good-paying jobs in Ohio and help people afford healthcare, eldercare, childcare, education, housing and more.”

“It’s time Ohio billionaires and big corporations step up to the plate and pay their fair share,” said Micaiah Malone, Owner of Mi & Me Cleaning. “It’s time that lawmakers prioritize working people by rewarding work not wealth and closing huge tax loopholes. President Biden’s plan levels the playing field and ensures that everyone in America, not just the rich and corporations, can get a fair shot at a good-paying job, affordable health care and a real opportunity at a better future. Biden’s plan won’t raise taxes on anyone earning under $400,000, meaning that 99 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small business owners won’t pay any more in taxes while the rich and corporations will finally pay a fairer share.”

The state’s billionaire wealth bonanza over the past 17 months is all the more appalling when contrasted with the devastating impact of coronavirus on working people. In Ohio: 3,480,412 have lost jobs, over 1,171,000 have been sickened by the virus, and over 20,600 have died from it.

President Biden’s investment proposals contained in the Senate passed budget resolutions would significantly improve Ohio residents’ health by making private insurance in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges more affordable; expanding Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing benefits; increasing long-term care benefits to help people afford home and community-based services; and lowering the cost of prescription drugs by giving Medicare the authority to negotiate lower prices with drug corporations.

Biden’s proposed investments would reduce health insurance premiums for 9 million people. An average 60-year-old in Ohio making $55,000 annually would save almost $400 on their monthly premium for an ACA insurance policy. The cost of extending these subsidies is $163 billion over 10 years, per the Treasury Department. That means the $6 billion increase in Ohio billionaire wealth over the last 17 months could pay for almost 4% of the entire 10-year cost of making healthcare more affordable for 9 million people.

While these investments in healthcare would benefit millions of Americans and save money in the long run, the ballooning wealth of billionaires benefits no one but the super-rich. That’s because the current tax code is riddled with loopholes and special breaks that allow the super wealthy to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

A more direct way to tax billionaire wealth is to tax the wealth itself instead of just its growth. If the wealth tax proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren had been in effect in 2020, the nation’s billionaires alone would have paid $114 billion for that year—and would pay an estimated combined total of $1.4 trillion over 10 years.