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; however 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.
The demand for a jobs programs must be coupled with demands for better budgeting priorities and for new sources of revenue. National Nurses United (NNU), is in the forefront pushing for genuinely progressive politics and economics in the United States, addressed the revenue issue with a bold campaign for a tax on Wall Street financial speculation yesterday.
“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.
“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 University of Massachusetts Amherst economics professor Nancy 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 Wall Street Transaction Tax is a sales tax on the stocks, bonds, debt and other trades carried out by the financial industry. Imagine a country in which workers have jobs at living wages to reinvest in America, where there is equal access to quality public education and guaranteed healthcare, a secure retirement, good housing, protection from hunger and a safe environment. That’s the America our nurses not only imagine but they insist must be rebuilt.
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.
Sources: John Nichols, TheNation.com
Donna Smith, Alternet.org