New legislation by Sanders could yield $200 billion in revenue over the next decade
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New legislation by Sanders could yield $200 billion in revenue over the next decade

Las Vegas : NV : USA | Jan 08, 2013 at 11:05 AM PST
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Senator Bernie Sanders

According to Republicans in general and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) specifically, the philosophical debate about a balanced approach to budget talks is over.

“The tax issue is finished,” McConnell said Sunday on the ABC News program “This Week.”

McConnell emphasized the point, according to a New York Times report. “Over. Completed. That’s behind us."

It might be over for McConnell, but it is definitely not over for liberals in both houses of Congress. Last Wednesday, Sanders (I-Vt.), together with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and House Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), filed companion bills in both houses of Congress to introduce a new tax on Wall Street transactions.

The new legislation encourages the financial sector to invest in the productivity of the American economy and could significantly reduce the deficit without putting a financial burden on the average citizen, i.e., the middle class or the poor.

"This bill offers us a clear choice. We can balance the budget on the backs of working Americans and senior citizens on fixed incomes or we can ask the gamblers on Wall Street to pay a little bit more in taxes," said Sanders, a co-sponsor of the bill, in a report by gatekeeper1950.

The proposal is called a “transaction tax” and would be a speculation fee of 0.03 percent on credit default swaps, derivatives, stocks, bonds, and other financial transactions. The new revenue over a decade would be a whopping $200 billion.

As the bill was being introduced in Washington, Sanders and other prominent Democrats including President Obama (via video) were addressing union leaders from throughout the country in Las Vegas at a convention of the United Steelworkers of America. Sanders stressed the need to focus on creating good jobs promoting a living wage, as well as protecting Medicare and Social Security.

The senator from Vermont reminded the assembly that 16 percent of American workers, approximately 25 million, are either unemployed or underemployed. The time has come for a bold effort to create jobs by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, transforming our energy system and rewriting our trade policy to benefit products made in America as our number one export, not jobs.

The loss of jobs in the US is confirmed by a report in Business Week. Private sector job growth has been almost non-existent over the past 10 years, according to the report. Between May 1999 and May 2009, employment in the private sector only rose by 1.1%, which is by far the lowest 10-year increase in the post-Depression period.

The severity of these statistics cannot be overstated and has resulted in the private sector job machine stalling in the US for a decade.

“These are tough times in our country and a pivotal moment in our history. It’s important for us not just to be on the defensive. We have got to be on the offensive,” Sanders said in his speech. “We have got to bring forth a vision that speaks to what America is all about. And that is jobs that pay people a decent wage, jobs that are created in the United States of America, not in China.”

After delivering the rousing convention speech on Wednesday, Sanders spoke Friday on the “The Ed Show” on MSNBC about the jobs crisis.

“I think the American people are beginning to catch on,” Sanders said. “The president cannot keep trying to compromise with people who do not want to compromise. What he needs to do is come out with a bold job-creating program to put millions of people back to work, and challenge the Republicans to support it.”

On “The Ed Show,” Sanders said this weekend if Obama wants to do something about the deficit, he needs to be cutting corporate welfare, instead of balancing the budget on the backs of middle class Americans, veterans and the poor.

Youtube video of Sanders on "The Ed Show” here.

Opinion

Sanders together with other progressive liberals in Congress are not going to allow the Republicans to control the conversation on how to solve the country’s economic issues. Re-electing Obama demonstrates the majority favors a balanced approach to economic issues, and now is the time for the American people to stand behind their vote and actively support congressional proposals that support their choice by making elected officials accountable.

The concept of “transaction tax” is not new. In 2004 Bill Gates proposed countries could raise new money for aid to developing nations, including plugging an estimated $80-100 billion funding gap to help the poor adapt to climate change by taxing financial transactions, tobacco, and shipping and aviation fuels, according to a Reuters report. Clearly the idea has been around for some time, and at one time was suggested as a replacement for income tax.

During the interview with Ed Schultz, Sanders was asked if Obama could be trusted to not cave-in to Republican demands. He said “no,” and enlisted the voices of the American people and progressives' groups to “push back hard” against cuts and let the president and congress know how you feel with phone calls, emails, and letters.

If Obama wants to do something about the deficit, he needs to think about cutting corporate welfare, not compromising with those who would rather balance the budget by instituting chained CPI, instead of Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for increases to Social Security, which would reduce the income of some of the poorest in the nation.

The percentage of revenue from corporate taxes is the lower than ever because of tax loopholes; still, the Republicans plan on continuing their obstructionist policies by refusing to discuss increase in revenue flow from the wealthiest segments in America, namely corporations. It’s time for the American people to frame the budget conversation, not the wealthiest 1 percent.

Resources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/us/politics/mitch-mcconnell-says-no-to-more-tax-increases.html?_r=0

http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/economicsunbound/archives/2009/06/a_lost_decade_f.html

http://gatekeeper1950.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/sen-bernie-sanders-focus-on-jobs-at-united-steelworkers-convention/

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/23/us-g20-development-idUSTRE78M64Q20110923

http://www.sanders.senate.gov/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/50386036/ns/msnbc-the_ed_show/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uidUIEOBv5U

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Bernie Sanders
"These are tough times in our country and a pivotal moment in our history. It's important for us not just to be on the defensive. We have got to be on the offensive," Bernie said in his speech in Las Vegas last week.
Dava Castillo is based in Clearlake, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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