Sanders introduces Robin Hood Tax and free education bills

WASHINGTON – A broad coalition of nurses, students, religious and civil rights groups, environmentalists, labor and housing advocates enthusiastically welcomed plans by Sen. Bernie Sanders to introduce two new Senate bills today that would impose a small fee on Wall Street speculation in order to pay for college education for all and other critical community needs.

Sen. Sanders  unveiled the legislation at a Capitol Hill press conference.

Sanders’ landmark education bill would eliminate undergraduate college tuition fees for students attending public colleges and universities, reform student loans, and expand work-study programs. The bill is a critical step to eradicating student debt, currently pegged at nearly $1.2 trillion and the fastest growing form of consumer debt, as well as expanding educational and employment opportunity.

It also puts the U.S. on a path embraced by other nations that already provide free college education including Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Slovenia, and Sweden.

The Robin Hood tax bill would help reinvest in American families and communities by providing the resources for jobs and healthcare for all, affordable housing, eradicating HIV/AIDS and fighting poverty and climate change. It parallels a House bill, HR 1464, the Inclusive Prosperity Act, introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) with 25 House co-sponsors.

 “We applaud Sen. Sanders for this bold and far sighted step. Free college education, as many other countries already provide, opens the door for greater economic opportunity, reducing income inequality, and a better life for all Americans,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, the largest U.S. organization of nurses, and a leader of the Robin Hood tax campaign, who will be speaking at the press conference.

 “Nurses see first hand the irreplaceable bond between good health and economic security and social justice,” DeMoro said. The Robin Hood tax, which can raise hundreds of billions of dollars every year, paid by Wall Street speculators, “is the perfect way to fund this program, as well as providing the resources we need for other vital humanitarian needs, including healthcare and good paying jobs for all, affordable housing, eradicating poverty and environmental justice. It is the hallmark of a civilized society and a more just nation.” 

Both bills set a nominal tax – 50 cents on every $100 of stock trades on stock sales, and lesser amounts on transactions involving bonds, derivatives, and other financial instruments. Passage would allow the U.S. to join dozens of other nations – including every other major global financial market – in a growing system of financial transaction taxes. 

In the U.S., the Robin Hood Tax embodies a widespread campaign endorsed by 172 national organizations representing millions of members in unions, student, health, clergy, civil rights, environmental and community organizations, and other consumer and activist groups.

“Income inequality is now at the center of our national political discourse, with politicians of every stripe recognizing it as a major problem of our time. What too few are willing to say is that we must demand more revenue from corporations and the 1 percent to level the playing field,” said George Goehl, executive director, National People’s Action. 

 “Experts are saying that we have the science we need to end the global AIDS crisis, yet everyone agrees that this will not be possible without a considerable increase in resources,” said Jamila Headley, managing director of Health GAP (Global Action Project). NPA and Health GAP are, along with NNU, major leaders of the Robin Hood campaign.

The Robin Hood tax would also slow the growth of automated high frequency trading, which makes the stock market more dangerous. A small tax would make risky High-Frequency Trading (HFT) unprofitable, and help reduce the excess speculation on commodities like food and gas that drives up prices, which will protect the economy from computer-generated collapses and market manipulation.

Forty nations from the United Kingdom to South Korea administer or have administered a financial transaction tax. In addition, 11 nations in the European Union are finalizing details of their own financial transaction tax to be implemented on January 1, 2016. 

Photo: At Sen. Sanders press conference.



Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.