Washington, D.C. – With endorsements up and down Main Street, as well as from international HIV/AIDS and climate change activists, The Inclusive Prosperity Act (H.R. 1579), a financial transaction tax sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), was unveiled today at a Capitol Hill press conference. Ellison’s bill would create a Wall Street sales tax, providing hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue every year at a time of great need, and allow the U.S. to join the rest of the world in a growing system of financial transaction taxes.
“The American public provided hundreds of billions to bailout Wall Street during the global fiscal crisis, yet bore the brunt of the crisis with lost jobs and reduced household wealth,” said Rep. Ellison in a prepared statement. “This is a phenomenally wealthy nation, yet our tax and regulatory system allowed the financial titans to amass great riches while impoverishing the systems that enable inclusive prosperity. A financial transaction tax protects our financial markets from speculation and provides the revenue needed to invest in the education, health and communities of the American people.”
H.R. 1579, The Inclusive Prosperity Act, embodies the principles and goals of the U.S. Robin Hood Tax Campaign, with the backing of more than 140 organizations representing millions of members in labor unions, religious groups, health advocates, consumers, housing activists, environmentalists, small businesses and others urging passage of a Wall Street sales tax. Many of those groups will be participating in a big action Saturday, April 20 in Washington.
Supporters say the bill would bring real and enduring recovery to Main Street –to fund jobs, housing, quality healthcare and education, clean the environment and provide greater U.S. support for international efforts to end HIV/AIDS and to forcefully address climate change. 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.
“We have a revenue crisis in America,” said George Goehl, executive director of National People’s Action, and a founding member of the Robin Hood Tax Campaign with National Nurses United and Health Gap. “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. That is why we must pass a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street to invest in rebuilding and healing our great country.”
“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.”
“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.
“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,” said Bobby Tolbert of VOCAL-NY.
The Inclusive Prosperity Act would levy a sales tax of 0.5 percent on stocks (just 50 cents on every $100 of stock trades) and smaller amounts on the trades of bonds, derivatives or other financial speculation. 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.
Today, dozens of countries have in place a system of financial transaction taxation, including many of the world’s biggest economies. Eleven European countries, including Germany, France and Italy, have either implemented or will soon implement an FTT. The leading Asian financial markets also charge these taxes as do other major economies with the exception of the U.S.
“The Inclusive Prosperity Act, which establishes a modest tax on virtually all financial transactions in the United States, is a hugely important policy initiative that addresses three of our most important economic problems today—austerity, financial instability, and inequality,” said University of Massachusetts-Amherst economist Robert Pollin. “This measure is capable of generating in the range of $300 billion per year in tax revenues. These funds would enable us to fight against the austerity-agenda cuts to Social Security, Medicare, public education and other vital social programs. The Act will also discourage excessive speculation in financial markets, by increasing the costs of Wall Street gambling. Everyone shopping on Main Street today pays sales taxes when they buy things. It’s time for Wall Street traders to face up to similar obligations.”
Robin Hood Tax Campaigners and U.S. and international supporters will gather Saturday at 12pm at Murrow Park in Washington, DC (Pennsylvania Avenue between 18th and 19th Streets) for a rally followed by a march to the White House and U.S. Treasury Department in support of the Robin Hood Tax. The event will coincide with meetings of G-20 finance ministers.
For more information: www.robinhoodtax.org