No More Excuses: Soaring Market Latest Evidence of Need to Tax Wall Street

Now that the boom times have returned for Wall Street with consecutive days of record market highs, the time for excuses must end, and the Obama administration and Congress should join with the other world markets in adopting a Robin Hood tax on financial speculation.

The signs could not be more clear. The New York Times, March 3, calls this a “golden age for corporate profits,”  and the financial sector is leading the gold rush. Just last year the top six U.S. banks raked in $63 billion – with Bank of America pulling in more than Walt Disney and McDonalds combined.  

But it remains a different story in Main Street communities across America, a new pauper’s age would be a more apt label.

“How is this recovery if only Wall Street, but not our families and communities, are on the upswing?” asks Amanda Devecka-Rinear of National People's Action and the Robin Hood  campaign.

"It has always been true that Wall Street can clearly afford to bail out Main Street with enough money to build homes, strengthen education, end the AIDS pandemic, fight global climate change and create jobs. Here is just further proof," notes Jennifer Flynn, managing director of Health GAP and the Robin Hood campaign.

Just ask the banksters and high rollers themselves.

“What’s amazing about this bull market is that people still don’t think it’s real,” said Richard Bernstein, chief executive of Richard Bernstein Advisors, a money management firm to the New York Times March 5. “We think this could be the biggest bull market of our careers.” 

“The momentum is clearly in the upward direction," Brian Lazorishak, portfolio manager and quantitative analyst at Chase Investment Counsel told the Wall Street Journal March 6. 

“So far in this recovery, corporations have captured an unusually high share of the income gains,” Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch told the New York Times on March 3. “The U.S. corporate sector is in a lot better health than the overall economy. And until we get a full recovery in the labor market, this will persist.”

So will Wall Street share their good fortune voluntarily with those harmed by the economy they wrecked with their reckless gambling with our homes, our savings, and our futures?

Apparently no time soon.  “Right now, C.E.O.’s are saying, ‘I don’t really need to hire because of the productivity gains of the last few years,’ ” said Robert E. Moritz, chairman of the accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers to the New York Times March 3

With all the pain the economic crash has inflicted, the bill for Wall Street is due. 

A major step forward is within sight.

The Inclusive Prosperity Act, introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison, could raise up to $350 billion every year with a minimal tax of just 50 cents on every $100 of stock trades, and lesser percentages on trading of bonds, currencies, derivatives and other financial instruments.

Most other major markets have already figured this out, including 11 European Union nations, among them the big economies of France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Major financial centers, including London, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore, also have financial transactions taxes on their stock exchanges.   

Are we just slow learners or does Wall Street throw around too much clout in Washington?

As to claims by the Wall Street opponents of a financial transaction tax that the impact would mostly fall on “ordinary investors,” a video distributed this week by Mother Jones, “The Great American Inequality Video,” tells a different story

The video notes that:

  • The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans own half the country’s stocks, bonds and mutual funds
  • The bottom 50 percent own just .5%, half of one percent, of all stocks, bonds and mutual funds

Let’s get off the dime and act now.


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