An Update on the Financial Transaction Tax
Throughout 2015 and 2016, we released our feature documentary The Same Heart which called for a tiny tax on financial transactions to raise funds for the basic needs of children at home and around the world. Last October, Media Voices along with the Child Labor Coalition and The Congressional Progressive Caucus, held a briefing for Congressional staffers on the Hill. The place was packed. There was fresh bipartisan interest in an FTT as a means of raising revenues for infrastructure and to fund social programs for children. At the same time, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was running on a Democratic platform that endorsed the FTT, as did Bernie Sanders.
Then, Trump won and prospects for the tax on the Hill dimmed considerably, though the need for revenue remains as great as ever.
According to CARE, over a billion children (every other child in the world) lacks one of the basic necessities for a decent life: food, health care, access to education, sanitation, shelter and basic security. 400 million children live in extreme poverty, including 15 million in the United States. Fifty million children are refugees. On any given day here in the U.S., 2 million children are homeless. That much hasn't changed.
However, recent events abroad have breathed new life into the FTT, which continues to offer the most progressive way to raise significant revenues.
On June 6th, French President Emmanuel Macron announced his support for the implementation of an EU-wide financial transactions tax. He did so at a meeting of French organizations committed to climate change, that included Oxfam, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. Macron, who wants France to take the lead on climate change following Trump's announced withdrawal from the Paris Climate Deal, is seeking to conclude FTT negotiations within the EU by summer's end. The next meeting of EU Finance ministers is in mid-July, where rates, exceptions and a firm timeline for implementation must be set. Ten nations still need to approve the tax estimated to generate 22 billion Euros per year for both climate mitigation in the developing world and humanitarian assistance.
Meanwhile, across the channel in Britain, the recent electoral losses by Theresa May's Conservative Party have greatly strengthened the hand of Labour , which ran on a progressive platform that included a financial transactions tax. Britain, home to the original Robin Hood Tax Campaign, is now poised to witness renewed public discussion of the FTT.
At home, Take On Wall Street, a coalition of 20 progressive organizations that includes Media Voices for Children and represents millions of voters, has embraced a five- point economic reform package that includes The Wall Street Speculation Tax. There are presently three bills before Congress:
Inclusive Prosperity Act: HR 1144 (115th Congress- 2017-2018)
Lead sponsor: Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN-5)
Putting Main Street First: Finishing Irresponsible Reckless Speculative Trading Act: HR 2306 (115th Congress-2017-2018)
Lead Sponsor: Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4)
Inclusive Prosperity Act (FTT) S.805 (115th Congress- 2017-2018)
Lead Sponsor: Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT.)
With a Republican-controlled Congress and a Trump economic team top heavy with Goldman Sachs alumni, the chances for any domestic legislation have dimmed, at least until the impacts of Trump budget cuts take hold as early as 2018. Cuts to SNAP (food stamps), school lunch programs, student financial aid, HeadStart, Pell grants, Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Meals on Wheels and massive cuts to Medicaid will hurt millions of Americans, particularly children.