Press Release

Rep. Ellison’s Inclusive Prosperity Act - HR 1579 Reintroduced with Broad Public Backing

Robin Hood Campaign Supporters to Converge in DC

Washington, D.C. - With the Capitol as backdrop, and joined by representatives of organizations comprising the Robin Hood Tax Campaign, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) today reintroduced The Inclusive Prosperity Act, HR 1579, a financial transaction tax that would provide hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue annually at a time of great need, and allow the join the rest of the world in a growing system of financial transaction taxes.

“This is a huge day,” Rep. Ellison announced at a press conference within view of the Capitol. “This is a small tax on Wall Street transactions to meet the needs of our nation. Didn’t America step up to the plate when Wall Street needed help? It will reduce harmful market speculation. Gambling on Wall Street does not benefit our society.”

Ellison’s bill is attracting support from more members of Congress—Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Judy Chu (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

Calling the legislation “remarkable” and “bold,” Rep. Barbara Lee told those gathered at the press conference that HR 1579 would address “out-of-control tactics” on Wall Street and would “lead to critical investments for our future—in health and development assistance.”

HR 1579 embodies the principles and goals of the U.S. Robin Hood Tax Campaign, with the backing of more than 140 organizations representing millions of members in labor unions, religious groups, health advocates, consumers, housing activists, environmentalists, small businesses and others urging passage of a Wall Street sales tax. This week the Sierra Club added its endorsement to the Inclusive Prosperity Act.

Many of those groups will be participating in a big action Saturday, April 20 in Washington.

Robin Hood Tax Campaigners and U.S. and international supporters will gather at 12 noon at Murrow Park (Pennsylvania Avenue between 18th and 19th Streets) adjacent to the International Monetary Fund, and World Bank for a rally followed by a march to the White House and U.S. Treasury Department in support of an FTT coinciding with meetings of G-20 finance ministers.

Supporters say the bill would bring real and enduring recovery to Main Street –to fund jobs, housing, quality healthcare and education, clean the environment and provide greater U.S. support for international efforts to end HIV/AIDS and to forcefully address climate change. It also aims to put a brake on high-speed computer trading, avoid bubbles that destabilize markets and sideline capital, and lower costs of essentials, like fuel and food, whose price spikes are linked to speculative trading.

“An FTT brings significant benefit to the U.S. economy,” said Wallace Turbeville, former Goldman Sachs investment banker and a senior fellow at Demos. "High-frequency trades are carried out at ‘blinding speeds,’” he said, “to the point where 50, 60 or 70 percent are done by ‘robo-traders.’ This does not give value to the economy, it damages it.”

“Wall Street speculation has become a house of cards, a game of computer-driven bets on bets, far removed from real-world investments in real economic activity,” wrote Ralph Nader in statement of support for HR 1579. “Wall Street speculation is currently subject to zero sales tax on its trillions of dollars of annual transactions- while consumers regularly pay sales taxes even on daily necessities.”

Providing the revenue needed to invest in our communities

"We have a revenue crisis in America,” said George Goehl, executive director, National People’s Action, and a founding member of the Robin Hood Tax Campaign with National Nurses United and Health GAP. “But the good news is that we know where the money is,” said Goehl. “It's not in grandma’s social security check, it’s not in our children’s classroom, and it’s not in the pockets of working class families. It’s on Wall Street."

“We have all seen the enormous outpouring of support for a financial transaction tax in this country,” said Jean Ross, RN, co-president of NNU, the nation’s largest nurses’ organization. “The Ellison bill has our strongest support and the backing of millions of members in organizations that endorse Robin Hood - because it would move the country away from austerity, and all the harm that entails, and raise revenue on the scale needed to rebuild the communities still suffering from the financial collapse of 2008.”

“The United States has made a commitment to invest in the end of AIDS. Yet, with our current budget crisis this will be impossible, unless we join all of the other major financial markets and implement a Robin Hood Tax. There is no reason not to do this," said Jennifer Flynn of Health GAP.

Erich Pica, of Friends of the Earth, also spoke, expressing support for Ellison’s bill in behalf of his organization’s 150,000 members and its goal to address “uncontrolled climate change.”

A tiny tax that can solve crises

“With a tiny tax on Big Banks, we can invest in our future by creating jobs, protecting healthcare and solving crises like the HIV/AIDS epidemic and climate change,” said Bobby Tolbert of VOCAL-NY.

The Inclusive Prosperity Act would levy a sales tax of 0.5 percent on stocks (just 50 cents on every $100 of stock trades) and smaller amounts on the trades of bonds, derivatives or other financial speculation. Brokers carrying out the trades would be charged the tax, unless carried out directly by investors. Households with adjusted gross incomes under $75,000 would be exempted.

Today, dozens of countries have in place a system of financial transaction taxation, including many of the world’s biggest economies. Eleven European countries, including Germany, France and Italy, have either implemented or will soon implement an FTT. The leading Asian financial markets also charge these taxes as do other major economies with the exception of the U.S.

“The Inclusive Prosperity Act, which establishes a modest tax on virtually all financial transactions in the United States, is a hugely important policy initiative that addresses three of our most important economic problems today—austerity, financial instability, and inequality,” said University of Massachusetts-Amherst economist Robert Pollin.

“This measure is capable of generating in the range of $300 billion per year in tax revenues. These funds would enable us to fight against the austerity-agenda cuts to Social Security, Medicare, public education and other vital social programs. The Act will also discourage excessive speculation in financial markets, by increasing the costs of Wall Street gambling. Everyone shopping on Main Street today pays sales taxes when they buy things. It’s time for Wall Street traders to face up to similar obligations.”