A variety of activists, including prominent Hollywood celebrities, plan a series of protests Tuesday to push for a new “Robin Hood” tax on big Wall Street transactions.
The events are timed to coincide with another day of questioning by Congress of JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon about his bank’s recent massive trading loss and what the activists say has been a frenzy of speculative trading.
The Robin Hood tax would be a small sales tax, less than half of 1 percent — or 50 cents per $100 on trading in stocks, and even smaller assessments on bonds, derivatives and currencies, that could raise billions of dollars in the United States, supporters say.
Dozens of national organizations including Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United and Health GAP, celebrities including Mark Ruffalo, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, leading economists including Jeffrey Sachs, former JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs executives and global leaders such as Desmond Tutu have come together to form an unprecedented coalition, calling for the Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street.
Activists plan rallies outside JP Morgan Chase branches on Tuesday in 16 cities across the country, including Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles.
Imposing new taxes on the nation’s biggest banks is not a new quest for the nurses’ unions. They’ve been rallying for such a tax for nearly a year now.
“Wall Street’s reckless speculation and risky deals caused our economy’s most devastating crash since the Great Depression, forcing millions of Americans to lose their jobs, their homes, and their pensions,” says Karen Higgins, co-president of NNU and staff nurse at Boston Medical Center who will speak at the Boston event. “Three years later, Americans on Main Street still struggle to recover from a crisis we didn’t create. This is the way to start to turn it around.”
Mark Ruffalo, star of the current movie “The Avengers,” also plans to release a video on Tuesday calling on Americans to join the campaign. He was joined in the video by Martin and Morello.
Backers say that the Robin Hood Tax is aimed at high-volume trading, which today makes up a majority of all trades. Experts say it will help place limits on the reckless short-term speculation that threatens financial stability — as with JPMorgan Chase’s losing bet of $3 billion recently. A Robin Hood Tax would also assist in curtailing speculation in essentials, such as food and fuel, supporters of the tax add.
“In cities and towns across the country and around the globe, people are hurting,” says Matt Kavanaugh of Health GAP. “Millions have been pushed into poverty, our social safety net has been shredded, and the winnable fights to end AIDS, food insecurity, and environmental destruction lack the resources to succeed. By adopting the Robin Hood Tax in America, we could go a long way towards solving our nation’s, and our planet’s, most pressing concerns.”
More than 1,000 leading economists have endorsed the policy behind the Robin Hood Tax, including Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute. Some type of Robin Hood Tax is already in place in more than 40 countries, supporters say.