Transcript: Thom Hartmann: Time to bring the Robin Hood Tax to America? 16 January '12

How much longer are we going to let the banksters on Wall Street rob us blind before we do something about it?

How much longer are we going to let banksters endanger the entire global economy - with high-risk trading and speculation?

How much longer are we going to let banksters skate by paying practically nothing in taxes while the rest of us are asked to take food off our tables or gas out of our gas tanks to contribute to lowering our deficit?

How much longer until we do something about it?

A few weeks? next election? next decade? after the next crash?

We're not the only nation that is asking ourselves that question.

France is too - and now they're doing something about it.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy announced he would push forward with a financial transaction tax - an FTT - on banking institutions in France - charging a tiny one-tenth of one-percent on all stock trades.

It's called a Robin Hood tax - because it's a tax that only affects banks and wealthy traders - and generates a lot of much-needed revenue to tackle things like poverty, health care, and infrastructure rebuilding.

Here in America - all the Republican candidates are proposing the opposite - they're proposing massive tax cuts for corporations and billionaires - tax cuts for the rich that are as much as 270 times larger than the tax cuts they're proposing for the Middle Class.

And since they're tax CUTS the Republicans want - they need to be paid for - and Republicans say we should cut social safety-net programs to make up for the money we're giving the billionaires - thus it's a reverse-Robin Hood policy.

But back to France...that tiny little - just one-tenth of one percent tax - on just the banksters and the stock traders - will generate massive revenue for the rest of the nation - upwards of 12 billion euros a year.

And if the whole debt-ridden European continent went the way of France - the whole continent of Europe - and put in place a Robin Hood tax on stock trades - that would be an additional 50 billion euros flowing in every year.

So, either they make the incredibly profitable transnational banking giants pay 50 billion euros on trillions of dollars in trades - or they make average hardworking citizens pay 50 billion euros...which as we're seeing in Greece, Italy, and the UK not working out so well.

The choice is pretty clear to me.

But not only does a Robin Hood tax raise much-needed revenue - it also discourages bad behavior - such as excessive financial speculation and high-frequency trading.

One of the main proponents of the Robin Hood Tax in France was an organization called Friends of the Earth Europe, which published a report on the banks which said:

European banks, pension funds and insurance companies are increasing global hunger and poverty by speculating on food prices and financing land grabs in poorer countries.... Food speculation, with billions of euros flooding in and out of financial products...causes price volatility. These rapid and unpredictable price swings hit the most vulnerable hardest, threatening their right to food, and making it more difficult for farmers to maintain an income - creating instability, hunger and poverty.

And they were just talking about the European banks - not even the American banks.

It's been proven that or example Goldman Sachs - which opened up the market for speculation on everything from oil to food to gold - that company played an integral role in the 2008 food shortages around the planet.

As Frederick Kaufman wrote in Harper's Magazine:

The result of Wall Street's venture into grain and feed and livestock has been a shock to the global food production and delivery system. Not only does the world's food supply have to contend with constricted supply and increased demand for real grain, but investment bankers have engineered an artificial upward pull on the price of grain futures...[and] the effects have been staggering: 250 million people joined the ranks of the hungry in 2008, bringing the total of the world's 'food insecure' to a peak of 1 billion -- a number never seen before.

This is what the banks are doing with all that untaxed money: speculating and creating instability around the planet.

But a Robin Hood tax would change all that - and it would put an end to the high-speed machines that account for most of the trades made on Wall Street - machines that make tens to hundreds of thousands of trades a second based solely on a computer formula.

Those machines caused a flash crash of the market back in 2010 - leading to the Dow Jones falling 1,000 points in just minutes without explanation - they're extremely risky - and a Robin Hood tax would put an end to those as well.

So the question isn't "should we put in place a Robin Hood tax on the banksters?"

The question really is: "Why the hell are we taking so long to put in place a Robin Hood tax?"

It's time to put an end to fraud and theft on Wall Street.

It's time to make banksters pay their fair share again.

And it's time to bring stability to global markets.

We need a Robin Hood Tax in America now.

That's The Big Picture.

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Thom plus logo Thomas Friedman, the confused billionaire, told us decades ago that "free trade" is what made the Lexus a successful product when, in fact, it was decades of Japanese government subsidies and explicit tariffs that did so.

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