Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Mary Bottari

Mary Bottari is the Director of the Center for Media and Democracy’s Real Economy Project and editor of the www.BanksterUSA.org site for bank busting activists.

November 4th, 2011 12:10 PM

Robin Hood Tax Gains Ground at the G-20

The G-20 meeting in Cannes got underway this week. The sunny beach resort, playground to movie stars and media moguls was an odd choice for a somber G-20 meeting. As President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner touched down in Air Force One, the Greek government was on the verge of collapse, austerity was sweeping Europe and the future of the Eurozone in doubt.

But the first day of talks offered a ray of hope for the entire global economy. For the first time, the 20 most powerful countries in the world sat down to discuss taxing the financial service industry. And for the first time, the U.S. blinked.

Welcome Change of Tune for the U.S. Government

President Sarkozy of France has long championed a small sales tax on the financial services industry. "At a time when states are making remarkable efforts to restore their public finances... how can the financial sector triumphantly continue to march, indifferent to the world around it, carelessly and without a care for the disorder it has more than its share in causing," Sarkozy said. Angela Merkel of German agrees.

President Obama too has supported the idea. Ron Suskind revealed in his new book Confidence Men that Obama thought the tax was a no brainer right after the banks collapsed the global economy -- until his economic team told him otherwise.

Behind the scenes, the “opponent in chief” has been U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner who has protected his friends on Wall Street by privately characterizing the tax as unworkable, easy to evade and not likely to bring in much income. Geithner doesn't just oppose the tax for the U.S., he has opposed the tax in the context of the G-20 and as EU member nations move forward to apply the tax in their member states.

Now the White House appears to be changing its tune. Reuters is reporting that the U.S. government is backing down from its long standing opposition to the tax.

An unnamed source told Reuters the United States now seemed "less problematic than the U.K." in resisting the idea. The U.S. is still opposed to the idea in principle but would not block others from going ahead. The Wall Street Journal confirmed the story quoting White House adviser Mark Froman as saying that the governments had decided to pursue different financial taxes, but: “I think there is broad consensus between the Europeans that the president met with this morning and ourselves about the ability of each to pursue this in their own way, whatever way they see to be most effective." Translation: Go for it, but the U.S. won’t join you.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board wasted no time, savagely attacking the idea and calling on Geithner for help.

Nurses Hold Geithner's Feet to the Fire

Tax Timmy's friendsThe news reports hit the wire almost at the exact same moment that thousands of nurses took the fight for a fair economy right to Tim Geithner’s doorstep with signs demanding "An Economy for the 99%" and “Tax Timmy’s Friends.” Nurses and other groups are fed up with Geithner's soft pedaling every action that might hold the big banks accountable for the meltdown of the global economy.

The noon rally at the Treasury marks an increased effort by unions to convince the Obama administration that more needs to be done to fix the country’s broken financial system and create jobs. Obama's reelection campaign recently announced that they were hoping to turn anger against Wall Street to their advantage in the next election cycle. Hard to do if the 99% are knocking on your door, calling for meaningful measures to make Wall Street pay. The nurses later fanned out across Capitol Hill, delivering 322,844 petition in support of the idea to Finance Chair Max Baucus and other members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the Super Committee).

“It is long past time for Secretary Geithner and President Obama to get on board with other world leaders in supporting this common-sense approach to raise badly needed revenues to help fund the critical programs we need to revive the U.S. and other global economies,” said NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro, who traveled to Cannes to join with nurses from around the world at a press conference and rally close to where world leaders were meeting.

Nurses in front of the White House November 3, 2011Nurses in front of the White House November 3, 2011AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was also in Cannes, quietly pushing the White House to do the right thing. The American labor leader was joined by one of the richest men on the planet, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who presented a paper to the G-20 leaders advocating for the transaction tax to aid the developing world. An increasing number of unions and grassroots groups, including SEIU, AFSCME, Oxfam, Public Citizen, Rebuild the Dream and National People's Action are adopting the tax and campaigning on it, and the Occupy Wall Street crowd has embraced it as well holding small actions across the country October 29th.

The Pope was not present, and neither was the Archbishop of Canterbury, but both men came out for a financial transaction tax as economically feasible and morally right in recent days.

Actor Bill Nighy, the British actor who has long campaigned for the "Robin Hood Tax" as it is called in the U.K. and who did a wonderful video popularize the idea joined the nurses in Cannes. “I heard a banker remark the other day that 'the time for atonement is over'. I must have been out of the country at the time, or looked away momentarily because I don't remember that period of atonement taking place. It would not affect their multimillion bonuses, “ Nighy dryly observed to the Guardian.

Tax Faces Continued Opposition in the United States

While the domestic implementation of the tax faces continued opposition from the U.S. Congress, Geithner and the White House, proponents reintroduced the legislation this week and are rapidly picking up co-sponsors. Oregon Rep. Pete DeFazio and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin introduced a modest version of the transaction tax (HR 3313) in an effort to get the Super Committee to take a closer look. While the financial services industry will work hard to convince Congress that any tax will result in the immediate collapse of the global financial system and that grannie will be hardest hit, the facts are that the modest fee proposed in this legislation is miniscule in comparison to the management fees applied by some mutual funds.

"Wall Street is 40 percent of the economy. They don't make things. They don't feed people. They churn. They create volatility,” said DeFazio. “The first step on the long path to recovery happens when we rein in the excessive speculative activity that has destabilized our financial system.”

Much more work needs to be done to get the Obama administration to adopt the idea, even more work to get it though Congress, but the tax now has a growing list of powerful allies and a simple common sense appeal.

As Trumka puts it: "It is time to put Wall Street to work rebuilding Main Street with a financial speculation tax to create jobs, rein in speculation and lay the groundwork for long-term economic prosperity."

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Ukraine: One ‘Regime Change’ Too Many? ...by Ray McGovern www.michaelmoore.com Is “regime change” in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative...

Mar 2nd
9:25 PM
Read More

Latest from David Sirota on Enron billionaire John Arnold smuggling anti-pension propaganda into "neutral" institutions like PBS and now, the...

Mar 1st
12:58 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles