From grocery and streaming subscriptions to web servers and Alexa, Amazon has become one of the most powerful economic forces in the world. And when Jeff Bezos returned to space Tuesday from his brief flight in a rocket built by his private space company, Blue Origin, he made remarks that drew attention to the vast wealth the company has built for him.
“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this,” Mr. Bezos said during a news conference after his spaceflight.
Mr Bezos’ remarks quickly prompted critical reactions, including from members of the House of Representatives who serve on the tax-writing Methods and Means Committee.
“Space travel is not a tax-free holiday for the rich,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon. “We pay tax on plane tickets. Billionaires flying into space – who have no scientific value – should do the same, and then some!”
Mr Blumenauer expressed concern about the environmental impacts of such space tourist flights. He said that he had introduced law he said The Protection Against Carbon Emissions (Space) Tax Act, which aims to enable passengers on such flights to pay a tax to offset their pollution impact.
He wasn’t the only one to link Bezos’ spaceflight to concerns about how Amazon’s business practices have affected his company’s employees as well as small businesses.
“While Jeff Bezos is all over the news for getting paid to go to space, let’s not forget the reality he has created here on Earth,” Representative Nidia Velázquez, Democrat of New York, said on Twitter. she added Hashtag #WealthTaxNow Tuesday morning and included a link to an article about how much Amazon employees were paid.
While those congressional Democrats drew criticism, the White House’s message was more welcome.
“This is a moment of American exceptionalism,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a news conference Tuesday when asked about the flight.