A financial transaction tax (FTT), also called a “Robin Hood Tax” (RHT), is a very small tax on the trading (buying/selling) of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, currencies and derivatives (futures and options) based on these assets. Essentially a sales tax, such as when we buy/sell shoes or computers.
At a time of unparalleled economic inequality, there has been a renewed interest in such a tax, particularly on large exchanges such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). CPEG’s Bill Barclay, who previously appeared on Fox Business News to argue for the proposal, recently authored a helpful question and answer piece about what a “Robin Hood Tax” would look like for Illinois. Download the Financial Transaction Tax Q&A.
This article, authored by CPEG’s Ron Baiman, originally appeared on the Dollars and Sense; Real World Economics blog in December 2013.
Having boxed themselves into a political dead-end by adopting the austerity agenda of the business community as represented by the Illinois “Civic Federation,” Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Illinois and Democratic Governor Pat Quinn on Tuesday, Dec. 3, rammed through a state Pension cutting bill that would reportedly reduce the state’s $ 100 B unfunded pension liability by $160 B. The Democratic President of the Senate, John Cullerton (a supporter of a Senate bill negotiated with the unions that would have cut less and given workers a choice of options), voted for the House bill, but warned it had “serious constitutional problems” and was reportedly silent during the debate, not present when the final deal was announced and a no-show at an earlier meeting attended by the three other legislative leaders. As is documented below, Cullerton’s concerns are well-founded as this bill presumes that $160 B of pension liability reductions are somehow equivalent to a roughly $26 B cut in the value of pension contributions from state workers.
Every Month a CPEG member will be posting a brief issue analysis for discussion and comments. This month’s discussion piece was authored by CPEG member Ron Baiman, with additional commentary from CPEG member Mel Rothenberg. More information about both can be found in the “About Us” section of our site.
One of our premier cities, sitting at the center of the industrial heartland, once a symbol of democracy, upward mobility, racial integration, a growing and vibrant middle class, and opportunity and a better life for immigrants from all over the world, has gone bankrupt. The cause has been obvious for at least three decades: massive de-industrialization, free-trade, union busting, white flight and suburban sprawl, deregulation, and “Financialization.” Similarly, for the same reasons, the Illinois economy, the largest and most important in the Midwest, has been in a downward spiral for decades.
CPEG’s Dr. Bill Barclay testified recently before the Illinois Pension Conference Committee regarding the state’s underfunded pension plan. Dr. Barclay’s solution-focused testimony included a presentation on a Financial Transactions Tax, a Graduated Income Tax, and Closing State Tax Loopholes, all of which would provide revenue solutions to aid Illinois’ ailing pension plan without punishing the public employees who earned those benefits after years of service to the state.
Video of the testimony can be found here. Dr. Barclay’s presentation begins at the one hour 29 minute mark.
The accompanying powerpoint presentation can be downloaded here.
On July 3rd, CEPG’s Ron Baiman provided testimony before a group of Illinois lawmakers serving on a special Pension Conference Committee regarding the state’s underfunded pension plan.
Baiman presented findings in collaboration with research from CPEG’s Bill Barclay regarding potential solutions to Illinois’ structural revenue problem including closing huge tax loopholes, a financial transactions tax, and a graduated individual income tax. The powerpoint referenced in the video can be downloaded here.