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Time to Stop Wall Street’s High-Speed Gamblers, Activists Step Up Call for a Tax on Wall Street

Press Release, 4/23/14

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Ad appearing in the New York Times today 04/23/14.

Ad appearing in the New York Times today 04/23/14.

“Reckless trading can bring down the economy again. A tiny tax on stock trades will make us safer.”

That’s the message from America’s nurses and supporters of a Robin Hood tax on Wall Street speculation who are running ads today calling on people to urge their legislators to sign on and support HR 1579, the Inclusive Prosperity Act, by Rep. Keith Ellison.

Nurses, High-frequency trades on Wall Street, most of it automated with thousands of computerized trades being made in nanoseconds, has drawn increased scrutiny in the past few weeks following the publication of Michael Lewis’ Flash Boys.

In seconds, notes National Nurses United and the Robin Hood Tax Campaign, automated trades “can wipe out savings, create enormous student debt, degrade education, and underfund human services, like hospitals, schools, and fire stations in our communities.”

All of which, the ad emphasizes, aggravates a continuing economic crisis for millions of Americans. “Working people who built this country with their hands and their hearts are seeing their communities decimated. Job cuts, foreclosures, and hopes for their children are held hostage by the massive greed on Wall Street,” the ad notes.

A Robin Hood tax, which is embodied in HR 1579, “would help curb some of the worst abuses in the market today while generating hundreds of billions of dollars in the revenue we need for jobs, healthcare, and so many other critical needs for our nation,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN.

In digital flash ads running on a number of news sites, people are directed to a web site to call their member of Congress and urge them to sign on to HR 1579.

In a press conference last year upon the introduction of HR 1579 former Goldman Sachs investment banker Wallace Turberville warned that high frequency trades damage the economy in part because the banks and hedge funds do not use the practice for productive investment in the economy, only to make higher profits – all while flooding the markets and exposing them to massive price swings. In May, 2010, for example, the stock market dropped almost $1 trillion in value and then recovered, all in just 45 minutes.

“Regulators tell us that high frequency trading acted like an accelerant an arsonist would use that causes a fire to burn very bright,” Turberville said.  “The financial sector has demonstrated that it cannot control itself. A financial transaction tax will bring some discipline to the markets and the rampant extraction of value by high frequency traders with no value added in return will be curbed. “

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HR 1579 would set a small fee, similar to the sales tax most Americans pay on consumer goods, of just 50 cents on every $100 of stock trades, and smaller amounts on transactions involving bonds and derivatives with revenues available for jobs, healthcare, education, and the international fight against HIV/AIDS and climate change. Major sponsors of HR 1579 include NNU, Health GAP, National People’s Action, with endorsers from 150 national and local community organizations. HR 1579 is patterned after a similar tax being implemented by 11 European countries, and already in place in every major financial world market except the U.S.  It targets the wealthiest of the wealthy, the bankers and brokers whose gambling broke our economy, and the top 1 percent who own most of the nation’s stocks and bonds, says the Robin Hood Tax Campaign. 

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