This is a huge day,” Rep. Keith Ellison announced Wednesday at a press conference within view of the Capitol, referring to legislation he reintroduced for a Wall Street Tax with huge purpose.
Take, for example, this passage from the bill’s “Findings.”
“The global crisis cost Americans $19 trillion in lost wealth…. American citizens provided the money to stabilize the financial sector…. The global financial crisis, along with wars, unabated and unaddressed climate change, unsustainable tax cuts, and a continuing unemployment crisis, if unaddressed, will deprive a generation of a meaningful role in the larger economy.” — Inclusive Prosperity Act, H.R. 1579, Sec. 2.
Ellison’s bill is attracting support from more members of Congress—Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Judy Chu (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).
Calling the legislation “remarkable” and “bold,” Rep. Barbara Lee told the press conference that HR 1579 would address “out-of-control tactics” on Wall Street and would “lead to critical investments for our future—in health and development assistance.”
H.R. 1579 would levy a small sales tax on trading of stocks, bonds, derivates and other instruments. Brokers carrying out the trades would be charged the tax, unless carried out directly by investors. Households with adjusted gross incomes under $75,000 would be exempted. Supporters say the bill would bring real and enduring recovery to Main Street. It also aims to put a brake on high-speed computer trading, avoid bubbles that destabilize markets and sideline capital, and lower costs of essentials, like fuel and food, whose price spikes are linked to speculative trading.
“High-frequency trades are carried out at ‘blinding speeds,’” said Wallace Turbeville, former Goldman Sachs investment banker and a senior fellow at Demos, “to the point where 50, 60 or 70 percent are done by ‘robo-traders.’ This does not give value to the economy, it damages it.”
“Wall Street speculation has become a house of cards, a game of computer-driven bets on bets, far removed from real-world investments in real economic activity,” wrote Ralph Nader in a statement of support for Ellison’s bill.
“We have all seen the enormous outpouring of support for a financial transaction tax in this country,” said Jean Ross, RN, co-president of NNU, the nation’s largest nurses’ organization. “The Ellison bill has our strongest support and the backing of millions of members in organizations that endorse Robin Hood – because it would move the country away from austerity, and all the harm that entails, and raise revenue on the scale needed to rebuild the communities still suffering from the financial collapse of 2008.”
George Goehl, executive director, National People’s Action, thanked Rep. Ellison for his “courage” and for pushing back against “awful austerity.” Goehl said that polls indicate that 62 percent of the public support an FTT. “We have a revenue crisis in America,” said Goehl, “but the good news is that we know where the money is. It’s not in grandma’s social security check, it’s not in our children’s classroom, and it’s not in the pockets of working class families. It’s on Wall Street.”
“The United States has made a commitment to invest in the end of AIDS. Yet, with our current budget crisis this will be impossible, unless we join all of the other major financial markets and implement a Robin Hood Tax. There is no reason not to do this,” said Jennifer Flynn of Health GAP. “It’s common sense legislation.”
Erich Pica, of Friends of the Earth, also spoke, expressing support for Ellison’s bill in behalf of his organization’s 150,000 members and its goal to address “uncontrolled climate change.” He asked, “Does the U.S. have the political will for adaptation that has to occur?”
“We have an FTT at the gates of Congress,” said Bobby Tolbert of VOCAL-NY. “With a tiny tax on Big Banks, we can invest in our future by creating jobs, protecting healthcare and solving crises like the HIV/AIDS epidemic and climate change. It’s the minimal endowment owed by corporate America.”