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Friday, October 28, 2016

Both ‘Occupy’ Marchers And Dem Politicians Rally Behind Taxing Wall Street Trades

At least 1,500 members of the National Nurses Union (NNU) and Occupy D.C. activists marched on the Treasury Department on Thursday morning to call for a “meaningful” tax on Wall Street trading — one day after Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) introduced a bill that would levy a small tax on a wide range of financial transactions.

The unplanned convergence between Democratic politicians and the protesters, who have generally refrained from making specific demands, offered a hint of how the populist energy from the “Occupy” movement might translate into policy. “Occupy Wall Street made people feel they’re part of a very large community,” said DeFazio, who has supported similar legislation in the past, in an interview with The National Memo. “As people have been awakened, they’re going to look for things to take action on.”

The White House has not been supportive of previous proposals. President Barack Obama shied away from the policy and instead revived a 2010 idea for a “financial crisis responsibility fee” when he arrived at the G20 summit in Cannes, France, this week; the fee would recoup the remaining losses from the 2008 bailout and help provide a base of support for any future rescues. (The conference itself, which brought together the most powerful economic policymakers in the world so they could meet on the elegant French Riviera, seemed designed to spark populist outrage.)

Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner has long been skeptical of a tax — reportedly arguing against one in a September meeting with top European financial officials — and multiple high-level labor sources said they considered him the main obstacle within the administration.

“Geithner has voiced opposition but in a way that leaves the door open,” DeFazio said with a hint of optimism, indicating that he believes the secretary will only support an FTT if it is imposed by a large contingent of those countries with active financial markets, including England and other E.U. nations.

DeFazio and Harkin’s bill, the Wall Street Trading And Speculators Tax Act, would slap a tax of 0.03 percent (or three basis points) on transactions that occurred after the initial issuance of a stock, bond, and other kinds of securities. The rate was kept deliberately low so everything but the riskiest kinds of trades would still be profitable.

“What we want to do is maximize our revenue without hurting pension funds and self-directed IRAs,” said DeFazio, an outspoken liberal who voted against the TARP bailout in 2008. “But [we also want] a level of tax that’s adequate to drive the super-high level speculators out of the market, or at least exact a substantial revenue from them.”

Harkin’s Communications Director Kate Cyrul also argued that a higher rate “hurts the likelihood of the measure becoming law,” but the marchers in D.C. seemed unenthused by the prospect of a watered-down legislative compromise. Instead, the protesters called for a tax of 0.5 percent (or 50 basis points) — nearly 20 times higher than the rate proposed by two of the most liberal members in Congress — in order to raise $350 billion for jobs programs and infrastructure investment.

“We don’t want a token,” said Karen Higgins, a staff nurse from Boston and a national co-president of NNU. “We went through this with the health care bill, where instead of doing what is right, we did [what was easy].” The nurses don’t want to pass a small tax that critics will be able to say failed to bring in substantial new revenues or significantly change Wall Street’s behavior.

The rest of the labor movement, while not as hard-line as the nurses’ union, also wants to see a heftier tax that makes a dent in Wall Street gambling.

“The AFL-CIO believes that a 10 basis points tax would serve three critical goals: raising considerable revenue, increasing the fairness of our tax code, and deterring speculative trades that constitute either gambling or gaming the system rather than long-term investing,” said Jeff Hauser, a spokesman for the labor group.

But Democratic aides close to the legislation say going higher than three basis points risked halting many transactions, including derivative trades (and thus gutting the revenue stream), something they indicated was not a goal of their bill, even if Occupy Wall Street protesters might welcome the change.


Follow National Correspondent Matt Taylor on Twitter @matthewt_ny

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Copyright 2011 The National Memo
  • callbuz

    Your commentary blog fails to clarify specifically which Wall Street trades that would effect. Would this affect Hedge funds only and if others, which ones?

  • stwykle1

    Speculative trading (especially on commodities) and the shipping of our jobs overseas is the root cause for nearly all of our eonomic problems today in MY opinion. These two variables is where we need to FOCUS on further regulation or taxation to minimize its effect on the markets and the consumer.

  • DaleCuthbrtson


    Have we learned nothing in the past 10 years?
    While the Democrats / Republicans , Argue over who is right – who should be in control ? AMERICA SUFFERS!

    The real enemy of Democracy has shown it’s Ugly head – WHO ?

    These are the old men on the hill who have lost site of what America is all about
    unless it lines there pockets first (charlie. R) crooks 98% of them

    Who have no vision for America , or the American dream !

    They wear the Disguise of public servants – while only serving themselves , and it does not matter what party they belong to !

    Americans crave – REAL change

    But will never have it until we clean house, and

    WAKE UP AMERICA……………………..!


  • 2hheels2

    This would help the economy and maybe stop the oil speculation. These computer trades should have never been legal, but if we could get some tax and benefit from them it could help the deficit. We also need strong regulation they have run wild in the destruction of the worlds finiance.

  • gddwolf

    dont see how this tax another tax again helps the situation and certainly securities trading did not have much to do w/ the 2008 recession

  • DaveBolotin

    So far, the 99% Movement has held it’s ground, maybe even strengthened. In order to keep it going we will need a central focus to sustain this movement. Especially as the weather in most of the country gets colder. People will lose interest if we do not take this to the next level. I think the way to do that is to use Banxodus as a momentum builder. Not only will this give us immediate success against Wall Street, also it will solidify the movement and bring in fringe people that are on our side, but are lethargic with regard to action. Can you imagine the tidal wave through wall street when lines of people go to their “too big to fail” banks and close their accounts. This is just what the movement needs. Is this the absolutely “right” action for the movement? I don’t know. Nor does anyone else. Action in itself is the right move. We can sort out the details later.

  • Dik

    Mr. Taylor;

    Thank you for reporting the events of this proposed tax without any bias.

    Dik Thurston
    Colorado Springs

  • doane

    I hope the Harkin/DeFazio bill passes, but I also think it should be a higher tax amount to discourage trading, which is basically gambling and doesn’t produce anything worth while that adds to the economy. A tax like this should have come out 20 years ago and may have prevented a lot of the problems in this country.

  • Wib

    We should go to the higher tax and go back to the traditional retirement system. IRAs and 401ks and other such funds were invented to bail out Wall Street in the first place, not to provide real retirement. Wall Street needed more money, so their pet politicians invented these so-called retirement funds to force more money into Wall Street for the banks and giant corporations to steal. Check your 401k and/or IRA in the current crisis if you don’t believe me. Note how often trades take place within those funds and how much you are having to pay in fees every time the manager of your 401k or IRA decides to make a trade. No, those funds or to prop up Wall Street and the giant banks and brokerages. Now you know why their pet lackies in Congress want to put Social Security and the military retirement system into 401k — more money from us, the 99 percenters, for the wealthy 1 percenters to steal.

  • Cozi Of L

    These uncontrolled actions have been hurting the financial system for a long time. Millions if not billions over the years have suffered directly or indirectly in the hands of Wall Street and Bankers uncontrolled power. Their greedy profit motivations stink. If given so much power and privilege to exploit the system the perpetrators should be made to face death penalty when they are found guilty. Their actions are as deadlier than those who intentionally kill. They should be removed from the system. Give them freedom but give them harsh accountability that goes with their crime.
    The tea party and Take over Wall Street is a blessing. People of all walks of life should support any which way to make it a democratically viable solution to this misconduct and corruption of representatives elected to serve the masses. While developing pure peaceful demonstrations the Police brutality should also be seriously addressed to help the movement’s growth. The department heads should be made to resign and held accountable for any unruly behaviors of their counterparts.

  • Nick

    The root of the problem is republicans (specially the tea partiers)in congress who are not passing any of the president’s good bills for job growth. Republicans, in congress, are just for the 1%(millionares & billionares) and not for the 99%. Occupiers,(I am a strong supporter of this movement), we need to occupy congress to get the “do nothing” congress to take positive action

  • AllResults

    I cant understand why our own Representatives will not attack an industry that has
    so much need for EVERYONE! LABEL GMO’s PROTECT OUR FOOD.
    And STOP THE SECRET Under the Table PAY OFFS. It is going on RIGHT NOW!
    Our own DEM, President Obama can not beat Monsanto as he said he would in 2007.
    Occupy Monsanto NOW. STOP THE GAME PLAYING- If any of us Occupiers get any thing that we are protesting about all greedy hell will break lose in Washington.
    …and it has not happened yet
    ALL DEMS OCCUPY “NO VOTE 2012” ….if Obama fixes our food labels then re-elect him!

  • AllResults

    Occupiers… They don’t know what we want!!!

    Be Specific #1 Wallstreet= Banks, credit cards,career politicians
    #2 Monsanto = correct food labels that have GMO’s, Stop killing our American farmers – STOP allowing PATENTS on FOOD and BODY PARTS!!! STOP playing GOD
    #3 STOP Gas and oil companies from keeping the US dependent on them.
    …add large fines annually if they do not come up with alternatives WIND, SOLAR, Electric,

  • PluviAL

    It’s easy to be angry and to exaggerate. Carrere Politicians are the most dedicated servants. Many could make, and have made lots more money in the business world. Fore example: A tax on trading is a great idea. The talent of experienced gifted politicians is necessary to get that policy on a global basis. Convincing other nations to tax in unison with us is not going to be done by angry toddlers.

  • letsgetem

    i like what cozy of l had to say about making the people who serve as our elected officials responsible for their actions. if a study were done as to the affect on the people they serve you could see how people died as an example. hubby is 60 yrs old goes home to announce with much trepidation he has just lost his job. his 401 is down by half and they cant possible retire as planned. the stress brought on by the result of greed by the powers that be results in hubby having a heart attack. now the surviving spouse is in for a world of hurt. this scenario is playing out all over America. this will continue as long as we have the same old tired politicians representing us. what we need are people like alan grayson people who are young and strong and willing to risk all. the way i see it if you take the oath of office with your hand on the bible and betray that trust you should be tried for treason against the people of America and should be willing to suffer the consequences lets say 20 years you might ask why such a harsh sentence. the people entering our congress aren’t children they can read the rules and abide by them its that simple you commit the crime you pay for it.

  • Sally G

    I have been a small-time investor for more than 3 decades; I am the sort whom most would worry that a tax would hurt—self-directed IRA, rarely if ever more than 100 shares in a trade (remember “round lots”?). I have NO problem AT ALL with this tax; commissions have come down so much since I have been trading, that even the 50 basis points would be doable ($3.50 on a $700 trade? when commissions used to make that small a trade absurd, being $50–$100?) Yes, it would mean my new cost of such a trade would be $16.45 instead of $12.95, but that is a “hardship” that is well worth the societal benefit to me (O.K., I would rather 25 basis points (bp), but 2 or 3 bp is not enough, unless it is that amount or nothing; it would be a foot in the door). For those who are doing computerized trades 100x a minute or more, I have little concern: that is egregious speculation, and should be penalized. We would have been better off in the last few years if that sort of rapid computerized trading was discouraged.
    One of the 99% who also has a retirement fund (for now, at least !)