THE BLOG
04/22/2013 11:59 am ET Updated Jun 22, 2013

We Found the Money, and It's On Wall Street

On Wednesday, Congressman Keith Ellison, Chairman of the Progressive Caucus, introduced the Inclusive Prosperity Act, which would generate hundreds of billions of dollars a year through a tiny tax on Wall Street trading. It's the exact kind of bold leadership and legislation our nation needs right now. April 20th, a thousand people rallied in Washington in support of this bill.

Just six years ago Wall Street investment banks drove us to the greatest financial crisis our country has faced since the Great Depression with their reckless behavior. The result has been millions of people losing their jobs, their homes, and their pensions. Fast-forward to today, and many of the same banks that were at the center of the crisis are back to making incredible profits. For example, Wells Fargo's $5.2 billion first quarter earnings mark a 22% increase over last year and JPMorgan Chase's $6.53 billion quarter a whopping 33% increase over a year ago.

On Main Street, it's a different story. American families are still trying to regain footing, and in many cases falling further and further behind, with one out of five children in living in poverty. And, at the exact time that the social safety net is most needed, it's being cut to shreds, further expanding inequality across country. Under Sequestration alone, 700,000 women and children will lose WIC food assistance and unemployment benefits have been cut nearly 10%.

On the issue of public budgets, we have revenue crisis in America. We simply do not have the federal resources needed to spur the kinds of public investments it will take to rebuild communities and put people back to work. The good news is this. We know where the money is. And it's not in Grandma's pension or Grandpa's Medicare, it's not in our children's classrooms, and it's not in programs that protect the poorest among us. The money is on Wall Street. And that is why we must pass the Inclusive Prosperity Act, HR 1579.

As we look to rebuild and reposition our great nation, there are two big questions we need to answer. First, will we have the courage to do what we've done many times before - make the kind of big, bold investments in ourselves that will launch the next great wave of American leadership and prosperity? The kinds of investments that brought us social security, mass electrification, a railroad system, and cures to disease, as well as providing jobs and security to generations of Americans.

Then, assuming we are ready to invest in ourselves, the second question is who is going to pay? Are seniors, students, veterans, and families going to continue to make all the sacrifices? Or will those who benefit the most from the laws - and in many cases lack of laws - of our nation, and control enormous amounts of wealth, going to more fully contribute to the cause.

The financial transaction tax that is central to the Inclusive Prosperity Act is a chance to make both big investments in our people and our infrastructure, and to make sure Wall Street pays their fair share.

As this bill is introduced, a glaring gap exists between where the American people stand on fair taxation and our where politicians stand. According to a 2013 poll by Heart Research Associates 62% of Americans support a small tax on stock, bond, and market trades. The same poll found that 64% of Americans want corporations to pay more in taxes.

And yet in Washington, conservatives continue to push for massive cuts, without the corporate and individual revenue we need. The newly released "Simpson-Bowles 2.0," with its call for cutting corporate and individual tax rates, is symptomatic of the problem. Meanwhile many Democrats, including President Obama, have bought into austerity as a strategy as evidenced by the President suggesting cuts to Social Security and lowering corporate tax rates.

The idea of a financial transaction tax is one of the places where we must expose and close the gap between where the public is and where elected officials are. Between now and the 2014 elections, National People's Action Campaign and our allies plan to expose members of both parties who demonstrate more loyalty to the big money of Wall Street CEOs than they do to their own constituents. This legislation will be one of a number of tests for those running for Congress in the next election.

That organizing starts April 20th, when people from across the country held a march and rally in Washington, DC in support of Congressman Ellison's legislation. From there we head back to our communities and begin organizing a groundswell of support for a piece of legislation that makes Wall Street pay their fair share and will help rebuild and renew America.