Howie Hawkins calls Upon State Lawmakers to Tax Wall Street to Resolve State Budget Deficit

Howie Hawkins - Green for Governor

Media Release
www.howiehawkins.org - www.gpny.org

July 26, 2010

For More Information:
Howie Hawkins 315 425-1019

Announces Support for Soda Tax - If Revenues Targeted to Nutrition and Anti-Obesity Programs


Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, said today that lawmakers meeting at the Capitol this Wednesday should resolve the state budget deficit by halting the annual $16 billion rebate of the stock transfer tax to Wall Street speculators.

 

Former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader is coming to upstate New York next week to help Hawkins in the effort to promote the stock transfer tax.

 

Hawkins also said lawmakers should enact the soda tax proposed by Governor Paterson - but more clearly dedicate the revenues to anti-hunger, farm, and anti-obesity programs, partially to offset the regressive nature of the tax. Hawkins also called upon state lawmakers to rescind the recent hike on the sales tax on clothing and footwear as a regressive tax that unjustly burdens low and moderate income New Yorkers whose budgets are already straining to cover basic needs.

 

Hawkins major revenue proposal is to have the state stop rebating the $16 billion raised annually from the stock transfer tax back to Wall Street traders. He is also proposing a hefty tax on bankers bonuses and a hike in the personal income tax for millionaires. His main opponent, Andrew Cuomo, has opposed any increased taxes on the wealthy and the big Wall Street financial institutions.

 

"Tax cuts for the rich and deregulation of financial services channeled the greed of Wall Street into speculation on asset bubbles instead of long term investment in the production of real goods and services. These policies are behind the economic crisis, including the massive decline in the value of people's homes and retirement funds. Yet those whose reckless speculation caused the economic collapse are the ones who are receiving trillions in bailouts from the federal government. The ongoing Wall Street bailout is the greatest transfer of wealth in world history. NY lawmakers should not perpetuate this outrage with more tax breaks for the bailed out speculators. Instead of cutting funding from essential services, the Governor and state leaders need to make Wall Street financiers pay their fair share of taxes to begin repairing the damage they have inflicted upon New York residents and the State Budget,” stated Hawkins.

 

New York State presently collects a very small tax on each stock transfer. The tax is negligible for individuals who are making long term investments. It primarily impacts those who buy and sell stocks frequently, such as those who utilize computer trading programs that have greatly contributed to the increasingly common wild swings in stock prices. However, New York rebates the tax to Wall Street traders after it is collected. It did not repeal the tax outright because its proceeds were part of the state revenue stream that guaranteed repayments of the bonds used to bail out New York City when it was bankrupt.

 

Since the 1979-1982 Carey/Cuomo administration, NY has awarded huge tax cuts to the rich, including the rebate of the stock transfer tax and cutting the personal income tax rate on the highest incomes by more than half. If NY went back to the more progressive income tax structure of the early 1970s, 95 percent of New Yorkers would get an income tax cut - yet the state would collect $8 billion more in taxes.

 

With Wall Street handing out over $20 billion in 2009 cash bonuses made possible only by taxpayer bailouts, a 50% Bankers' Bonus Tax on cash bonuses would generate another $10 billion for the state treasury.

 

"The Democrats and Republicans joined forces to bail out Wall Street and the biggest banks last year with trillions of dollars when their years of risky speculation and outright fraud caught up with them. But we are facing the deepest recession since the Great Depression. With more than 800,000 New Yorkers out of work, with more than 100,000 families having lost their homes to foreclosure, how come our state lawmakers are so unwilling to make Wall Street bail out Main Street and Martin Luther King Blvd., especially with the financial oligarchy reporting record profits and bonuses for a few thousand financiers?" asked Hawkins, a Teamster who unloads trucks at UPS in Syracuse.

 

Nearly 25 percent of New York's children and 67 percent of its adults are overweight or obese, costing $6.1 billion a year to treat diabetes, heart disease, and other obesity-related problems. Sugar sweetened beverages are the single leading contributor to obesity and obesity is a leading contributor to disease. Obesity increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and even cancer which trigger billions of dollars in medical costs each year in New York State. Biologically, the calories from sugar-sweetened beverages, particularly from commonly used high fructose corn syrup, are metabolized differently in the body than sugars in fruits and dairy products, causing high insulin spikes and fat deposition. Many have said the soda tax is equivalent to the effort in recent decades to stop smoking by hiking the taxes on cigarettes.

 

While surveys in New York State, and in NYC show that people with lower incomes and lower educational attainments drink more soft drinks than those with higher incomes and more education, all New Yorkers would save money by making a switch from drinking sugar-sweetened beverages to drinking healthier beverages, such as low-fat milk and tap water.

 

Hawkins said the proceeds from the soda tax should be used for programs such as improving the nutritional value of school meals; subsidizing the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables; supplementing the food stamp (SNAP) and WIC (Women's, Infant and Children Program); doubling the value of SNAP dollars spent at farmers market; and providing funding for initiatives to help family farmers, such as farmer-owned cooperative food processing, transportation, and wholesale markets.

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