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'The People Need Robin Hood': Nurses Union Leads Nationwide Campaign to Force Wall Street to Pay Its Fair Share

Economists estimate that tens of billions of dollars could be raised from a tiny tax on Wall Street trades.

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The idea for a financial transaction tax has major backing from the likes of Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. A tax on financial transactions has already been implemented in 29 countries. Yet the Obama administration has opposed efforts to institute the tax. Ron Suskind's book  Confidence Men reported that President Obama himself supported the tax, but was convinced that it should be abandoned by economic adviser Larry Summers.

The issue has come up in recent talks to form the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an effort to reach a major trade agreement that would institute neoliberal policies in the Asia-Pacific region. A leaked document from the secretive talks published by Public Citizen indicates that the agreement would forbid countries from instituting financial transaction taxes.

While resistance to a Robin Hood tax may be strong, activists like Bobby Tolbert say it’s crucial to fight for the tax.

A Robin Hood tax would “ensure that the grassroots of America can survive,” said Tolbert, who is on the board of VOCAL, a New York organization that advocates for low-income people. “It would discourage financial institutions from the speculative types of transactions that drove us into a financial crisis in the first place.”

Additional reporting by Alyssa Figueroa.

Alex Kane is AlterNet's New York-based World editor, and a staff reporter for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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