Robin Hoods Lobby Congress: 'Make Wall Street Pay!'

Robin Hood and his merry band of economic justice campaigners came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday looking to drum up support among lawmakers  for their most contemporary economic policy proposal: a financial transaction tax.

Calls for a so-called ‘Robin Hood tax’ have grown internationally and exponentially in the years since the 2008 financial collapse and economists and social justice campaigners have explained how a financial transaction tax, or FTT, could stabilize the economy by placing an infinitesimal tax on Wall Street trades and speculation in order to disincentivize high-speed trading while generating hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue to fund education, alleviate poverty, battle persistent health problems, and assist the move to a more sustainable energy economy.

On Wednesday—backed by economists and a broad coalition of unionized nurses, economic justice groups, environmentalists, and sympathetic lawmakers—the Robin Hood Tax Campaign went door to door in the halls of Congress to deliver their message.

“With the latest Congressional super committee on budget deliberations [meeting] in the aftermath of the brinkmanship over federal funding, a change in tone is needed in Washington,” said Karen Higgins, RN, co-president of National Nurses United. “We are calling on Congress and the White House to refocus on a human needs budget, not just an endless cycle of more austerity and more cuts. We need the Robin Hood tax.”

In a commentary published by Common Dreams on Wednesday, Higgins added:

Higgins also quoted Larry Hanley, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, who said the reason he and his members support the tax is to restore equity and justice to the U.S. economy. “There’s been a 40 year crime wave and [workers have] been the victims,” he said.

 As Michael Hiltzik recently explained in the Los Angeles Times:

Robert Pollin, director of the Political Economy Research Institute at UMass Amherst, is one of the many economists who support the bill, HR 1579 (the Inclusive Prosperity Act of 2013), put forward by Congressman Keith Ellison, which would implement the FTT.

“With the financial transaction tax we can raise the revenue we need and discourage excessive speculation on Wall Street. It’s being done in the world’s second largest financial market, London and the fastest growing security markets in the world, including China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Russia. If they can do it, so can we,” Pollin said.