Democratic Rep Proposes Space Tourism Tax Days After First Private Flights

Days after Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos launched successful tourism flights to space, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) proposed a tax on private space travel.

The Securing Protections Against Carbon Emissions (SPACE) Tax Act would establish a new excise tax on commercial space flights carrying human passengers for purposes other than scientific research. The tax would be applied in two tiers — the first for suborbital flights exceeding 50 miles above the Earth’s surface, and the second for orbital flights exceeding 80 miles above the Earth’s surface.

In addition to calling the tourism expeditions a “tax-free holiday for the wealthy,” Blumenauer cited effects upon the climate as a particular area of concern.

As a press release from the lawmaker’s office explains:

As this budding space tourism industry takes shape, Blumenauer is particularly concerned about the environmental impact of sending humans into space, particularly when there is no scientific value associated with the launch. The number of trips to space are expected to increase, with Virgin Galactic planning to eventually launch a shuttle of passengers into space, on average, every 32 hours.

While proponents of suborbital space flights point to transatlantic flights as having similar carbon footprints, these flights carry significantly more passengers and travel much farther. The result is space launches accounting for an estimated 60-times greater emissions than transatlantic flights on a per-passenger basis, enough to drive a car around the earth and more than twice the carbon budget recommended in the Paris Climate Agreement. 

“Just as normal Americans pay taxes when they buy airline tickets, billionaires who fly into space to produce nothing of scientific value should do the same, and then some,” Blumenauer explained in the release. “I’m not opposed to this type of space innovation. However, things that are done purely for tourism or entertainment, and that don’t have a scientific purpose, should in turn support the public good.”

In response to Blumenauer’s proposal, energy expert and Center for Industrial Progress founder Alex Epstein noted that although “the rise of the commercial space industry is a truly exciting development that we should be celebrating,” policymakers are seeking to “loot this new industry.”

https://twitter.com/AlexEpstein/status/1418609268652007424?s=20

Epstein added that Blumenauer and “other would-be looters of the commercial space industry” are using carbon dioxide emissions as a facade for cracking down on the industry. 

“We should be getting out of the way of space innovators so that they can bring the benefits of space travel — including the wonders of space tourism — to the masses,” he remarked. “I know I certainly would love to be able to afford a trip to space.”

Blumenauer is not the only Congressional Democrat to slam billionaires’ space expeditions.

As The Daily Wire reported last month, TMZ cornered Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in Reagan National Airport and asked her “about the world’s richest man adding himself to the first crewed flight to space for his aerospace company, Blue Origin.” Warren blasted Bezos for allegedly neglecting to pay his taxes.

“Look, he’s laughing at every person in America who actually paid taxes,” Warren asserted. “Jeff Bezos’ trip to outer space is being financed by all the rest of the U.S. taxpayers who paid their taxes so that Jeff Bezos didn’t have to. And Jeff Bezos kept all his money and used it on his space ticket.”

In March, Warren proposed an “ultra-millionaire” tax that would seize preexisting wealth to finance President Biden’s spending agenda. More recently, Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) proposed a “Patriot Tax” that would force those with a net worth over $50 million to surrender 2.5% of their wealth to the federal government. Those with a net worth above $100 million would surrender 5%.

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