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September 16, 2013
Occupy Movement to Rally for a Robin Hood Tax on Financial Transactions
    by Robert Kropp

On the second anniversary of the movement's birth, protestors will march on Chase Manhattan Bank and call for a financial transaction tax to raise funds for social programs.

September 17th is generally recognized as the anniversary of the birth date of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Tomorrow, the movement plans to celebrate with a march from the United Nations to the headquarters of Chase Manhattan Bank on Wall Street, where protestors will call for regulations enacting a financial transaction tax.

Popularly referred to as the Robin Hood Tax, a financial transaction tax would impose a fee of less than 0.5% on Wall Street financial transactions. Supporters contend it could generate hundreds of billions of dollars each year in the US alone that could then be diverted to increasingly underfunded social programs. “Wall Street's superrich speculators are now making millions of super-fast, robotic financial transactions per second, generating trillions of dollars a year for them – but producing nothing of real value for us, while distorting and endangering markets,” political commentator Jim Hightower has written. “Put a tiny tax on each of those automated gambles by speculators, and more than enough money will come into the public coffers.”

A bill to enact a financial transaction tax was actually introduced in the US Senate in late 2011. Sponsored by Democrat Tom Harkin of Iowa, the bill would have imposed a tax of 0.03% on Wall Street financial transactions. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax could raise $350 billion in revenue in ten years. But more importantly, such a tax would be especially onerous for high frequency trading, and encourage a more sustainable and long-term approach to investment.

Apparently, the bill never made it out of the Senate Finance Committee. On the other hand, a number of nations in the European Union are preparing to enact a levy of 0.1% on equities and bonds and 0.01% on derivatives.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) concluded in 2009 that a financial transactions tax of only 0.5% could fund the creation of 4.6 million jobs and support an expanded social safety net as well. Besides, EOI wrote, "the mean holdings of financial assets by the wealthiest 10% of households is 45 times greater than the mean holdings of the bottom 75% of households," so the tax would be extremely progressive as well.


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