As improbable as it may seem, the nation’s largest banks are even larger now than they were before the 2008 financial crisis, meaning they are still a “too big to fail” risk for our economy. Income inequality is growing with hedge fund managers and corporate CEOs abusing loopholes in our tax code to further enrich themselves. Funding for government services is being slashed when sources of revenue are going untapped like taxing Wall Street trades. Some communities lack even access to basic banking services, leaving them to rely on predatory, high-fee financial services like check cashers.
Against this backdrop, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), and Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) led the launch of the Take on Wall Street campaign on Tuesday.
Nearly 40 organizations including Public Citizen, Americans for Financial Reform, the AFL-CIO and Communications Workers of America have signed on to the new campaign, which seeks to bring much-needed reforms to Wall Street’s seemingly unchecked power and greed.
The five point plan at the center of the campaign would, in the words of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, “Make Wall Street work for Main Street, instead of the other way around.”
- Close the carried interest loophole that lets billionaire Wall Street money managers pay lower tax rates than nurses or construction workers.
- Create a Wall Street speculation tax that would discourage short-term bets and generate billions in new revenue to make college affordable, invest in our infrastructure, and create jobs in our cities.
- End “Too Big to Fail” by breaking up the big banks – making them smaller, simpler, and safer.
- Stop subsidizing million dollar CEO bonuses by ending the CEO pay tax loophole.
- End predatory lending and also expand access to fair consumer banking services through a public option for financial services like postal banking.
The financial sector spends around $1.5 million a day on lobbying and contributions to congressional candidates.
Rep. Ellison recognized this in his remarks, saying, “We are the many and they are the money. We are going to win this fight if we stick to it.”
Bret Thompson is the online director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.