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John Nichols
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Sunday 4 September 2011
The demand for a jobs programs must be coupled with demands for better budgeting priorities and for new sources of revenue

How Will We Pay for Obama’s New Jobs Push? Answer: Tax Wall Street

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President Obama is right: the United States needs a jobs program that spends federal tax dollars to retain jobs, to create jobs and to put tens of millions of Americans back to work.

Unfortunately, President Obama does not have a Congress that will work with him to implement a jobs agenda.

Rather, he has a Congress that says the United States is broke.

That’s a lie. The United States is a wealthy country with immense resources. It can fund wars of whim, back bailouts and tax breaks for billionaires.

So there is money. The problem is that the money is misallocated.

But that’s not the worst of it.

The most frustrating reality of the current moment is that the federal government places too much of the tax burden on working families, small farmers and small business owners—all of whom contribute mightily to society while struggling to make ends meet—and too little on the Wall Street speculators whose greed and irresponsibility has done so much to destabilize the economy.

Obama’s increased focus on jobs is important. But it is not enough at a moment when Republicans in Congress—and their echo chamber in the media—refuse to allocate the resources that are necessary to fund jobs initiatives.

The demand for a jobs programs must be coupled with demands for better budgeting priorities and for new sources of revenue. National Nurses United, the activist union that has been in the forefront of pushing for a genuinely progressive politics and economics in the United States, is addressing the revenue issue with a bold campaign for a tax on Wall Street financial speculation.

They’re taking the campaign to the offices of sixty members of the US House—Democrats and Republicans—with a September 1 “National Day of Action to Tax Wall Street.” At a number offices, such as that of House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, they will set up 1930s-style soup kitchens to feed hungry families that have been left without work and in some cases without homes by plant closings and layoffs. (Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, a historic manufacturing center, has been devastated by the shuttering of major employers, such as a General Motors plant that once employed 7,100 area workers.)

NNU allies, such as Progressive Democrats of America and local unions and activist groups, will join the “Day of Action” drive to get members of Congress to sign a pledge to “support a Wall Street transaction tax that will raise sufficient revenue to make Wall Street pay for the devastation it has caused on Main Street.”

“It’s time for Wall Street financiers, who created this crisis and continue to hold so much of the nation’s wealth, to start contributing to rebuild this country, and for the American people to reclaim our future,” says NNU executive director Rose Ann DeMoro.

NNU co-president Deborah Burger, RN, says a tax on Wall Street trading of stocks, bonds, derivatives, currencies, credit default swaps and futures—the very financial speculative activity linked to the 2008 financial meltdown and resultant recession—could raise hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for the programs that “are desperately needed to reduce the pain and suffering felt by so many families who feel abandoned in communities across this nation.”

That’s not just idealism talking. It’s practical economics, as accepted by a growing array of world leaders—including many conservatives—as well as top economists.

University of Massachusetts Amherst economics professor Nancy Folbre, a MacArthur Fellowship recipient who has consulted with the World Bank and the United Nations Development Office professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, praised the NNU’s “Tax Wall Street” campaign in a recent New York Times piece that explained the push in an international context.

“Purchases of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments in the United States go untaxed but for a tiny fee on stock trades that helps finance the Securities and Exchange Commission. In Britain, by contrast, a 0.5 percent tax on stock transactions raises about $40 billion a year. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany recently announced plans to introduce a similar tax in the 27 nations of the European Community,” wrote Folbre. “Our current tax policies favor speculative investment in financial instruments over productive investments in human capabilities. This imbalance helps explain why nurses’ unions in the United States (NNU) have been particularly outspoken advocates of a financial transactions tax. As they put it: ‘Heal America. Tax Wall Street.’ ”

The fiscal arguments for taxing Wall Street are sound.

So, too, are the political arguments.

At a point when so many politicians and pundits claim that America is “broke”—too “broke” even to pay for essential jobs programs in a time of high unemployment—the “Tax Wall Street” proposal provides a proper response. America is not broke. It just needs to follow the example of the rest of the world and demand that the speculators pay their fair share to heal the real economy.

Of course Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan will scream. But it will sound mighty shrill if they are claiming America can’t help the jobless because we’re “broke”—and that America can’t tax speculators and raise the money that would make us not “broke.”

This story originally appeared in The Nation.
Copyright © The Nation – distributed by Agence Global.


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ABOUT John Nichols

John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress. 

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President 'O' needs to get

President 'O' needs to get tough with the adversaries to get re-elected. This is a war of the rich and the poor and soon to get poor.

Broke my ass! If the country

Broke my ass! If the country was broke why would the robber barons want a bigger piece of it? And why would they pay so much to sponsor retards to control the power structure?Tax the rich until there are no poor. If every person had an education and a job, the millionaires would be billionaires and the billionaires could leave the planet.

Cancel contracts for

Cancel contracts for Haliburton, Blackwater, and other private security contractors- mercenary armies- used by military and government. savings - billions of dollars

Tax, don't tax, it really

Tax, don't tax, it really doesn't matter. The rich will find new improved ways to keep taking all the money one way or another. One side says if we tax the rich we kill job creation. That's bull. They have more money than they have ever had, but they aren't creating any new jobs in this country. All the new jobs are going to their overseas operations where they can keep the money and not pay taxes in the US. If we don't tax them they just have more money to hoard. If we do tax them they cry and they use that as a reason to not create new jobs. They had the tax breaks for two terms of the Bush Administration and this country was bleeding jobs at the rate of 7 - 8000,000 jobs per month. Now they say they are waiting to see what happens with the economy. This country gives the rich bankers billions of dollars so they don't fail when they don't even need it and we get to keep paying higher and higher fees but they won't give us a loan to start a small business to create a few local jobs. The FED just keeps printing money, then, they give it to the banks in the form of US bonds for pennies on the dollar. The banks turn around and leverage the basically free money by loaning it to other banks and it goes back and forth until $1,000,000 magically turns into nearly $100,000,000. Most of that money is going overseas along with all of our jobs. Meanwhile they foreclose on millions of homes a year and make it impossible to get new loans for a home. Our young men and women are all over the world getting killed in bogus wars so the big corporations can keep bilking the US tax payers billions of dollars a month on an ever escalating number of no-bid contracts while they can't even keep track of billions of dollars of that money. Our politicians only care about keeping their own jobs, even though most of them make more money than they would ever need on their own private companies and don't even need their government job, yet they spend half of their term in office campaigning to stay in office. They promise us the world, then it's back to the status-quo the minute they get elected/reelected. It doesn't matter if they are republican or democrat, it's all the same thing. The Republicans give us one side to keep their constituents happy and the Democrats give us the other side to keep that side happy. It all boils down to the people in the middle who don't have a clue which way to go, but it's all the same in the end anyway. They (the politicians and big corporations) know the deck is stacked against the middle and lower class because they are the ones who print the deck and they get to make the rules on how to stack it. They all get elected by their special interests, not the citizens of the United States. The whole time they are promising the American people the world; they are making their secret drug deals with the rich who are the ones who really decide who gets into office. It's all smoke and mirrors and we get to see only what they want us to see while they spend every waking hour trying to figure out new and creative ways to bleed us dry. Take a look around people. It's time to wake up and smell the coffee (if you can still afford to buy coffee). Our two-party system isn't there to provide checks and balances. They are there to make sure that they can cover both sides of the coin, which will eventually end up in their pockets. I'm pretty sure when our founding fathers risked their very lives to form the Constitution they did not have in mind anything even remotely resembling what we have now. It certainly is not a government by the people and for the people, unless of course, you happen to be a member of that elite 1% who never seems to have enough not matter how much they have (power or money).

The President needs to

The President needs to address the "unemployed" working women and men of Middle Class America. Yes, one has to look and hunt for the label made by Unions in America, but it still much easier to find labels Make in Communist China with enabler Greedy American Big Business! Please, please! Did some one say, inpassionate speech about Labor? Really? Mr President, where were you, the last two months in Wisconsin and Ohio? Let's see if the president will in your next speech have any courage to stand up and advocate for Middle Class America! Or will he make "another deal" with Boehner, Cantor, Ryan and McCarthy and their tea party and McConnell and 43 senate filibuster obstructionists? He is two for two in not having provided the needed leadership that America is in desperate need for? It s about Jobs stupid!

So much good discussion-so

So much good discussion-so many good ideas. A deaf president & congress. I concur with "Obama tax Wall Street?" -LOL." I'm more towards LMAO. He doesn't have the understanding, much less the brass.

Most of the ships in American

Most of the ships in American waters are foreign, paying foreign tax as they bring foreign manufactured goods into America. President Obama is definitely not trying to change from a policy of foreign economic globalization with a communist country, to promote American manufacturing jobs instead. This is evident by:
The following report for Congress in DEC 2009 that explains that national ballast water legislation would do the same thing as tariffs, plus protect our environment from pathogens being dumped into our water and air by foreign ships bringing foreign manufactured imports into our country, stealing jobs from Americans. “Although estimates of the costs of ballast treatment may be imprecise and vary from vessel to
vessel, there is some general agreement on average costs.14 For example, it may cost an estimated $400,000 per vessel for modification of container/bulk vessels to use onshore ballast water treatment facilities at California ports. More generally, the cost of retrofitting vessels to treat
ballast water has been estimated at between $200,000 and $310,000 per vessel for mechanical
treatment and around $300,000 for chemical treatment.15 MOST OF THE EXPENSE WILL BE BORNE BY
FOREIGN SHIPPING COMPANIES, AS THE U.S. FLAG FLEET IS A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF THE GLOBAL FLEET,16 and
likely PASSED ALONG TO CONSUMERS OF PRODUCTS IMPORTED ON THESE SHIPS.”
So what if foreign ships have a cost or logistic problem retrofitting with the technology needed to protect Americas health and environment, manufacturing jobs are created where it is cheap and easy to deliver goods to consumers. Currently because of the Federal governments failure to create uniform protection to protect all Americans equally, foreign ships are receiving a free pass to destroy America’s environment while taking jobs away from Americans with the foreign manufactured goods imported on foreign ships. Failure to quickly enact a strong policy to protect our country from foreign economic interest destroying our environment will, forever be throwing away this chance for American manufacturing to again be competitive. The problem facing America an jobs is our politicians are bent on supporting economic globalization. Unfortunately our political leaders follow the advice from leaders of global companies that depend on foreign investments, as they supply money for our leaders political careers. Sadly American industries are regulated to the max, as foreign industries are allowed to trash the American environment and get away with it. (Gulf oil spill) We need politicians that will worry more about the dangers and destruction foreign economic interest create before going after American manufacturing pollution.

As soon as the founding

As soon as the founding fathers signed the Constitution, the very next thing they did was set up a Customs department and levy import tariffs in order to fund the government. Until Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, a large portion of government revenues came from import tariffs. Tariffs are designed to protect domestic industries from foreign competition that may undercut the market with cheaper labor, poorer working conditions, less environmental protections, and lack of unions. The elimination of import tariffs not only slashed government revenues, but also rendered American industries incapable of competing with foreign imports without eliminating all unions and regulations that protect the workers. Deregulation is the goal; turn America into a banana republic like Honduras, Dominican Republic, or Mexico. Taxing Wall Street transactions is a bright idea, but we need to restore our manufacturing sector with protective import tariffs.

Our good friend Rick Perry

Our good friend Rick Perry recently threatened to abolish the IRS. What a good idea! How about a national sales tax? Groceries- no tax, Yachts 1% per foot, Primary home 1% five acres or less, Second home 20% plus 1% per acre, Third home 50% plus 3% per acre, Car 5% plus 1% for every mpg < 35, plus 10% import, second, 20%, third car 40%, private aircraft 20% plus 10% per ton, $1,000 jewelry -10% plus 10% each $1,000

Just a few suggestions, I am sure you all have your own.

Creating Federal jobs or

Creating Federal jobs or labor will not help the economy...what is needed is for industries to come back, or to form new ones...We can produce all the goods we need here at home and then export the excesses as we once did that made us a great nation....

Obama tax Wall Street? LOL!!

Obama tax Wall Street? LOL!!

Interesting perspective

Interesting perspective Buck.
By the way, your name draws me to an as an aside. I was forced out of farming apples in Michigan in 1998 when the Chinese were allowed to export Apple juice and peelers. while the first page of the Farmers journal I got blamed the Chinese, page 6 showed that they brought in near the same tonnage, or there about as Chili and Brazil. It appears all down now, at least Chili at aprox 414k tons to Brazil's 50k tons. Sad year for growers, but I'm now an IT security guy. No riches but a light work load competitively and a steady check.

To the topic, you do express an understanding of how things in import export, home an abroad manufacture, at least as I understand such things. If we are concerned with the quality of life in American over all, and it appears that the Free Market gives a F__K about that equation, we'd at least work towards a system that punished trading with countries with substandard records (American being the standard in these cases of equation) of established worker health and safety, environmental safety and last, but not least an equal prorated living wage.

For the first two a study of prosecuted violations using certifiable statistic would be essencial though paying alight tax to the inspecting offical makes the worst cases disappaear off the records, at least in the Asian countries I lived in and visited. So a law doesn't make a process so, as statistical analysis if it can be done, would give an apples for apples accounting. If it can't be done, that is reason enough to disqualify for competition.

Admittedly a living wage has yet to be standardized, although I would argue that this because of arguments against it (it will draw down employment). A look at the funding for which organizations do the upstream funding for these think tank generated arguments d0es not require a genius education, it is simply a mater of employees following their boses will. Isn't waht we working stiffs do? I have found it interesting that Noam Chomnsky manages to foot note all of books delininating the research he's done to prove his point. No genious, I finished my masters at 59 and it is not a far look for me to see.

What might be a far look for many is the nature of rich guys who like to do business. You have a look that says you may have met some these guys Buck. I had the interesting fortune to work for two rich guys, a millionaire franchise developer and business property investor and billionaire partner of a holding company in Thailand, with a masters in engineering from Austraila. His hobbies were country-club building and operations and resort Island operations. I had did serious supervisory work with both these guys' hobbies and again had the interesting fortune to meet with both scores of times over months. You might guess that I've traveled a bit, but I've never met two people more into bragging to me about their accomplishments. Competition and garning respect appear to be major preoccupations with these guys. And imagine my take as a modest wager earner who came to love the working class out of respect for the struggles of our grand and great grand parents, the folks who lived in fire trap tenant housing and worked 12 hours days with hardly a share of what their efforts brought. So while these guys continual boasting worked in reverse at garning my respect, I did learn the fallacy of the arguments of raising minimum wages to say, a 1965 equivalency would of it self lower jobs. A blip in time, these rich guys would compete for the last dime. They aren't interested in taking their money and running, provide they have mor than enough and they will put out until they do. Given their peers have the same opportunity, these guys will rise out of ashes. It takes some to wrap ones head around this I think, but Maslow's hierarchy of needs is gaining ground in undergraduate and graduate business programs around the country it seems. Once survival needs are met any number of things can take presidence over money for motivation . For wealthy business owners, it is foolish in the light of evidence to the contrary that they work for the dollar out side of a comparative relationship with their peer group. the data and my experience convince me that taxing 20% on all income over $1 million or 70% against the same sum, as was done in the '50s and '60 when much of the infrastructure was built, won't make a hill of difference over how much these guys and gals are interested in competing, once the shock settles whatever th eplayung filed, these folks will run and stretch their necks at the finish as they do now, and did in the '50s.

'Greed and selfishness has no

'Greed and selfishness has no place in America.' Ah but it does Angela ... a very big place and although some are greedier than others ... almost everyone knows a little greed and selfishness ... as it was the grease that oiled the machine of invention and the emerging American corporations ... many of which started off in backyard garages (HP and Apple for example). So a little greed goes along way.

What we don't have place for in America. is Corporate Fascism and the Selfishness of Elitism. We are our either brother's keeper or we are doomed to isolated individualism.

Why is is that none of the

Why is is that none of the Republicans, and some go-along Democrat know-it-all Politicians ever say a word about bringing all of our troops home that are scattered all over the world in 123 + countries with 738 Military Bases, no less.
Nothing is said by these paragons of Christian virtue about stopping all the Wars that are being propagated in Our name. Give me a break ! Wars that have no reason other than to further the insane Goal of a New World Order that None of us wanted. All in the name of "saving Democracy" ? Give me a break ! Yet we are expected to pay for them while we are losing our homes, our health care, our pensions, and with No Jobs to even feed our families.

Since we are Paying the Salaries of our troops, Over There, bring them home and put them to work Here, rebuilding our Roads and Bridges and all of the falling apart infrastructure right here in our own Country. To hell with the farce of Pretending that it is because we must Protect Our People. Those neocons are Causing the rest of the world to hate us...and with cause.

What the hell is going on in the Heads of these evil people ! It is time, past time, for all of us Citizens to get up off our rear ends and fight back and retake what we have worked for, sacrificed and even died for...Our Country. This is the only way it will happen. ' Pretty Please' just is not working...ask Obama !
Where is the Justified Anger, people ?

Transaction fees, aka, taxes,

Transaction fees, aka, taxes, would reduce transactions, increasing Government revenue and taking revenue from the tranactors cancelling the total affect. Going green by growing your own food, will have a negative impact on GNP and decrease efficiency in growing food. Reducing existing taxes has a negative long range affect as it gives more money to the tax payer, it of course is unavailable for reducing the deficit.
The classic solution is increase tariffs. Of course this will have a negative affect on free trade. But really, why does it cost more to manufacture and market goods in America. It's because it costs more to manufacture in America because we have labor laws, EPA laws, ICC laws, FDC laws, etc. But these laws are all designed to protect Americans which is a good thing but creates a very unlevel playing field for American manufacturing. So we need to increase tariffs on all goods by a factor that equals the added cost of American laws which increase our costs compared to foreign goods produced in countries that do not have these laws to protect their citizens or Americans. This increses the cost of foreign goods to those Americans who prefer to buy foreign goods making a more level playing field for American manufacturing. This tariff, tax, would decrease our deficit, create American jobs, encourage foreign manufactuers to adapt our standards to their products increasing protection not only for Americans but for the foreign citizens as well. The negative side is that it might further reduce our exports of some of our products. But the difference would not be much, as foreigners don't buy hardly any of our manufactured goods any more, any way...

This is why we need ron paul

This is why we need ron paul in 2012.

Also, the government tax

Also, the government tax dollars are not the way to create jobs and it never has been, even in FDR's time, it didn't work at all. WWII falsely helped the economy by putting people to work to make weapons but few consider the rations of WWII is hardly an economic turn around or economically sustainable. Thus WWII didn't end the recession either. The thing that will create jobs is getting out of the failed way we look at profit and not externalizing costs to the benefit of oil profit, for example. Then the economy will transform to a sustainable and green one, revolutionize the way humans live on earth and make technology in harmony with nature, not adverse to it. This would put people to work. The Federal government needs to create the legislation to enable this transformation which means they need to stand up to the corporate power structure that owns them--fat chance. Thus the people must do it themselves and leave this dinosaur system behind by localizing their economies, growing their own healthy food and banking locally instead of with dicks like BOA and Wells Fargo, Chase and Citigroup. Then these dicks will lose power and influence and politicians will seize upon the opportunity. The Federal government and Obama are useless at this point and have no chance of doing anything to help the people over their corporate masters. We are the economy and need to act like it instead of waiting around for shmucks like Obama and bigger shmuck republicans

Nichols, you propose putting

Nichols, you propose putting a band aid on a totally insane and corrupt system. While you are clever, clearly this is not helpful. Taxing wall st transactions will only hurt trading which is pointless as there is nothing wrong with trading. The Fed reserve system is what has continually let us down and needs to be addressed as they give 16 trillion away to their big bank friends while the rest of America can't get a loan. The bank bail out of not even a trillion bucks was just a distraction in the face of this fact. Fundamentally we need to make corporations pay for the costs of their products, mainly the damage to the environment and the cost of war to steal these resources. These costs have been externalized which makes oil profitable. To do this we need a system to get big corporate money out of politics, not an easy task. How do we have elections without the huge influence of corporate dollars? The logistics of such, when you actually try to design such as system, are very difficult, so we are left with a myriad of people like you, Nichols, putting clever little band aids which amount to a puff of hot air.

I like! Posted to my Facebook

I like! Posted to my Facebook page. Regrettably, representatives of both parties are equally beholden to the uber-rich. So, despite Warren Buffet's pleas, it is unlikely Wall Street speculation will ever be equitably (as a % of GNP) taxed, barring another American revolution! Meanwhile, Buffet can give to the poor who patronize his businesses, as a sop. They will certainly appreciate it, I'm sure!

It's worth noting that credit

It's worth noting that credit card companies and banks have been "taxing" all of our purchase transactions going through their systems at a similar rate for years. This partly accounts for the tidal shift of national wealth into the financial industry. A tax like the one proposed by Mr. Nichols would help to turn that tide.
Michael Witmer
Pomona CA

Greed & selfishness has no

Greed & selfishness has no place in America!!

Stop all the bogus wars!

Stop all the bogus wars! It's costing us billions and for what? Take away the benefits that Bush, Cheney and all the war mongers get, including anyone who wants to keep us in Iraq and any other foreign country. NO MORE WARS...

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