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Sanders Bill Signals Growth of Broad Robin Hood Tax Movement


Sanders Bill Signals Growth of Broad Robin Hood Tax Movement

Rose Ann DeMoro

Seven years after Wall Street gamblers wrenched the U.S. economy into the worst economic swoon since the Great Depression, the movement to make the high rollers pay some restitution to people and communities harmed by their profligacy is gaining stream.

Earlier this month, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced two bills that would set a small speculation fee, also known as the Robin Hood tax, on trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other financial transactions.


It’s a wonderful development.

However, progressives should never ever use the term “Robin Hood,” at least not if we understand how conceptual framing works and hope to win this debate. Robin Hood robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, and by using the term “Robin Hood” to describe progressive taxation, progressives are using incredibly toxic framing for their own ideas–essentially agreeing that progressive taxation or is robbery. That’s basically ceding the argument to the neoliberals. Progressive taxation is fair taxation, progressive taxation enables us to make necessary investments, and taxes on things like financial transactions simply make good sense.


In 2015 shifting the argument even beyond “progressive taxation” is accurate and justified when you consider that not only do the fat cats not pay their share of taxes, they are serial recipients of benefits paid for with the money the working class pays in taxes, often to the detriment of we working class taxpayers and the environment.

Casting the 1% as corporate welfare kings and queens most accurately portrays the dynamics of today’s economy.


Restitution tax?

You are probably right about the “toxic framing” of taxation as theft. But imagine if, despite that, the support for such a tax, toxic frame included, becomes hugely popular. It would mean that the poor framing does not hurt the cause. What would the right-wing do? Can you imagine the panic in Wall Street? But fantasies aside, I think I would side with you and look for a smarter way of packaging the proposal.


" Most major financial market has an equivalent speculation tax, including the biggest markets in Asia, and Europe, where Eurozone financial ministers are meeting in June to put the final touches on a Euro financial transaction tax."

Most major financial markets have…"

“By placing this critical issue in the table in the presidential discourse,”

Really? The issue is placed IN the table as opposed to ON it?

I doubt that Ann DeMoro would write sentences that are this poorly rendered.

There are so many typos on C.D. today that I think it must be someone on the staff who shows a grammar and reading comprehension level equivalent to that of an 8th grade student (or less).


The unfortunate naming of the legislation (which makes it sound like a variation on some organized crime “protection” racket–think Don Corrleone making you “an offer you can’t refuse”) is not its greatest problem.
It’s greatest problem is that if pressed with a choice between forking over hundreds of millions of dollsars (or billions!) or picking up stakes and moving to some more economically laissez faire place the one percent will pick up and move their assets to the Cayman Islands or Singapore, or the Channel Islands.
Before the Bernie tax would work many regulations covering financial transactions, speculation, and the movement of capital internationally would have to be enacted.
Know for sure that there is no will for such reform and so the Bernie tax (like other minor presidential candidates’ proposals) will get its share of publicity and go exactly nowhere.


I think the point is that the user tax is automatically impounded as the trade is made. Therefore it wouldn’t matter where the 1% harbor their assets. Nobody can make a trade without triggering the tax, no matter where their asses or there assets are.


I think all military industries should be taxed double to help pay for the wars that bring them profits from death.


Good gesture, but (progressive) taxation does not work. We are asking the rich people that own the rich politicians that make the tax laws to tax themselves. This is ludicrous. When they respond to public pressure to institute a progressive tax, politicians make sure the money goes right back into the rich’s pockets. A wealth cap will work where taxes can not.


A wealth cap is a grand idea, but try both/and instead of either/or.


The question needing an answer is: Where is the trade made? It is a case of “everyone must do it or nobody will be able to do so” because, if need be, capital will open up a trading center in some obscure out of the way place in order to carry on their activities as before.


We have tried taxation and it hasn’t worked. It might work if things were decided direct democratically in a decentralized way instead of by the oligarchy’s politicians.


Ms DeMoro’s assertion that the “Robin Hood” tax would not impact everyday, ordinary people is just wrong. A transaction tax would impact anyone with a 401K plan or an IRA. Most of these kinds of accounts are held in mutual funds, and those fund are actively managed. That means that they are not static, but the holdings in those funds change with the business climate. I check the activity tab in my portfolios about once a month, and there are always two or three dozen transactions in excess of $100. Trying to save enough for retirement is hard enough. Don’t further penalize me for trying to maximize my returns by balancing my portfolio!


Couldn’t they just tax transatcion over 250,000? Also do they charge you a fee every time they make a transaction in your account?


If they make it apply only to transactions of $250K, then traders will simply execute multiple trades of $50K each and avoid the transaction tax. Especially with computerized trading, you can execute dozens of such smaller trades in microseconds. In order to make the Robin Hood tax generate the kinds of revenue that will allow all of the massive increases in spending proposed by Mr. Sanders, it’ll have to hit every transaction. And, no, they don’t charge me a fee for each trade. I pay a small service fee each quarter to pay for the active management services of the brokerage company.


Then count the total for each week


At this stage of the campaign, a proposed “Robin Hood Tax” seems a good move for Sen. Sanders. It can arouse a feeling of enthusiasm among people who are reaching the end of their patience with the plutocracy. Certainly his stances set him apart. Do people really think that 4 more years of insiders will be anything other than putrifaction of an already rotten and obsolete system? No negative aspersions toward Obama intended: that’s another story. The time is right for a spoiler, is my guess.


Your mutual fund, or pension manager, pays a per-trade commission to brokers each time they modify the holdings in the portfolio. Increase their expenses with this tax and they might *) pass that expense on to you, *) reduce the number of trades that they do.

Now, a lot of advocates want fewer trades on the market. I am not sure why; perhaps because they want to put a crimp in brokers’ incomes. The question is whether fewer trades produce a better more productive use of resources than previously. (Again, I anticipate advocates who think that more resources -> government for distribution to the needy is better more productive than any amount of investment in improving or maintaining our productive assets. BTW, this from people who want more government money for “improving our infrastructure”. )


Years and years ago brokers operated a cartel, with a minimum commission rate on stock trades, and the government’s SEC was the enforcer of that minimum. Charles Schwab is the most famous person of the era of emerging discount brokers, and now the cost for anyone to trade stocks is much lower than it had been.

One interpretation of the ‘Robin Hood’ tax is an intent to reverse all that progress on lower discount brokers’ commissions, with the difference between now and the future going into the government’s pockets. Pause here to remember just how wasteful and abusive the government is of money. Advocates want to spend the money raised on higher education and health. Haven’t you noticed that education and health has gotten so expensive BECAUSE of all the government money being spent on it.


What is Sen. Sanders’ response to our poverty crisis? To use language that was popularized in the 1990s, what should we do about all those low-income and middle class people who “chose to embrace the poverty lifestyle”? With this generation, the “Robin Hood tax” idea is defined as moving money from the rich/corporations to the middle class, which will trickle down to those still in the working class.

We’re stuck with reality. In the real world, not everyone can work (health, etc.) and there aren’t jobs for all who urgently need one. What should we do about them? The US shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s. The last I heard, there are 7 jobs for every 10 people who absolutely must have one. What should we do about the 3 who are left out, with no means of providing for themselves? It’s popular to call for job creation – been doing it for decades, in fact. But until that day arrives…?