THE BLOG
10/11/2013 02:56 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

It's Time to End the Cycle of Governing Crisis to Crisis and Fund America

Tell me if you have seen this movie before. Washington manufactures a budget crisis, waits till the last minute to deal with it and then at the eleventh hour kicks the can down the road just to have the whole fight over again three to six months later. Rinse and repeat.

The world's greatest democracy and the richest nation on earth has been reduced to governing by crisis. Jumping from one manufactured budget crisis to another and each time holding our economic security hostage.

It's far past time that we break this cycle and fund America. There is a simple solution: more revenue. If the government had more money we could break the crisis fever that is killing our economic recovery and devastating most those who can afford it least.

The good news is that both in the U.S. and overseas a movement is building for accountability and recovery for families by taxing Wall Street transactions. Such a "Robin Hood Tax" also known as a Wall Street Sales Tax, would generate the revenue needed to invest in people, infrastructure and jobs, while reining in Wall Street speculation. It's a win-win for American families. And a simple way out of our crisis government.

The idea of a Wall Street Sales Tax is popular with the American people. Polls show that Americans believe Wall Street should be taxed more, with support for a small tax on transactions reaching 62 percent in a survey conducted for Americans for Tax Fairness this year.

While those opposed to the idea of a Wall Street Sales Tax are few, they are powerful. The same big banks and hedge fund managers that would be expected to pay pennies on the dollar of big Wall Street trades.

Political leaders in Europe are already seizing the opportunity. In February of this year, 11 European nations voted to begin implementing a financial transaction tax that would raise around 34 billion Euros annually. These funds will blunt poverty-inducing austerity, restore essential services, and put Europeans back to work.

This is a big idea that would bring big change - and it's already happening. More than 40 countries already have taxes like this to raise revenue, including seven of the twenty countries with the largest stock exchanges in the world.

There is no time to lose. Our government is shutdown and once again we are in another political standoff over the debt ceiling. More than 20 million American adults are currently seeking full time work. Our infrastructure is crumbling, our schools are under the constant threat of budget shortfalls, and Congress is seriously considering cuts to seniors and families in poverty. It's a nightmare scenario built on the false premise that there is no more revenue available, but income generated from this tax would pay for these critical investments and others.

Supporters in the U.S. are growing in number, with Bill Gates and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz joining calls for the tax. More than 165 organizations have joined together to campaign for a Wall Street Sales Tax. Supportive rallies have taken place nationwide, including a march of thousands in New York City on September 17th.

The Inclusive Prosperity Act, H.R. 1579, introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) calls for a 0.5% tax on stocks, 0.1% tax on bonds and .005% levy on derivatives and currency. Approximately $350 billion would be raised annually through H.R. 1579, much of it directed to jobs--in education, healthcare, the environment and for infrastructure.

This tax could finally generate a real recovery for Americans, and it must be a part of the Congressional budget debate this fall.

Just 5 days of revenue from Ellison's proposed tax could fund 10,000 teachers for a year. Economist Robert Pollin has argued the revenue could employ millions of Americans in green jobs, with multiplier effects on the community level.

This is a fight we have to win, because the lives and livelihoods of low-income and middle-class Americans depend on it. We must break this cycle of budgeting by crisis before it breaks us. We need fund America, increase our revenue, end Wall Street speculation and pass a Robin Hood Tax.

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