Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the ranking minority member on the House Budget Committee, this week gave new momentum to a progressive plan to impose a fee on Wall Street’s financial trades.
While it is unlikely such a bill can pass in the new Republican-controlled House, the legislation is clearly intended to serve as the basis for a future push to mandate a transaction tax on all trades. Scores of transformational laws, including Obamacare, similarly started off as failed attempts at legislation.
The Congressional Budget Office, however, previously warned a tax on Wall Street financial transactions could “diminish the importance of the United States as a major financial market” and that “imposing the transaction tax would probably reduce output and employment.”
The imposition of the so-called “Robin Hood tax” has been a key demand of the Occupy movement. It is also strongly supported by economists closely associated with billionaire George Soros.
Speaking at the heavily influential Center for American Progress on Monday, Van Hollen outlined a plan he said would result in about $2,000 a year in savings for those earning less than $200,000. Hollen’s proposal would nearly triple the tax credit for child care and calls for tax rewards for those who save at least $500 a year.
The cuts are benefits are to be paid for by Wall Street. Specifically, the scheme is to be funded by a financial transactions tax, or a small fee on individual Wall Street trades.
The plan was originally proposed in 2011 by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., as the “Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act,” which some are calling the Robin Hood tax.
At the time, the Congressional Budget Office warned “the transaction tax would probably reduce output and employment” as an immediate economic effect.
The CBO further warned “the transaction tax would reduce the value of existing financial assets, because investors would not be willing to pay as much for assets that had become more costly to trade.”
In a dire assessment, the CBO warned that unless other countries also impose a transaction tax, investment would flow to foreign nations at the expense of the U.S., which would be seen as too costly to do trades in.
“As foreign holders of U.S. securities moved their transactions abroad, more of the market could go with them, which could diminish the importance of the United States as a major
global financial market,” stated the CBO.
DeFazio is closely tied to the country’s largest socialist organization. He previously was listed on scrubbed sections of the website of the Democrat Socialists of America, or DSA, as being a member. He is a founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which also was founded by and originally openly partnered with the DSA.
DeFazio’s tax legislation evolved ideologically from a concept called the Tobin tax, which was originally defined as a tax on all spot conversions of one currency into another. That tax was hatched by Nobel Laureate economist James Tobin after the Bretton Woods system of monetary management ended in 1971.
Supporters claim DeFazio’s bill could raise up to $35 billion annually.
The Congressional Budget Office, however, has warned that DeFazio’s tax on certain financial transactions could “diminish the importance of the United States as a major financial market” and that “imposing the transaction tax would probably reduce output and employment.”
The imposition of the Robin Hood Tax has been a key demand of the Occupy movement. It is heavily supported by billionaire George Soros.
Another prominent supporter of the Robin Hood Tax is Jeffrey Sachs, a Columbia University economist who crafted a controversial economic “shock therapy.” Sachs is a key member of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, or INET.
Soros is INET’s founding sponsor, with the billionaire having provided a reported $25 million over five years to support INET activities.
Last April, Sachs keynoted INET’s annual meeting, which took place in the mountains of Bretton Woods, N.H.
The gathering took place at Mount Washington Hotel, famous for hosting the original Bretton Woods economic agreements drafted in 1944. That conference’s goal was to rebuild a post-World War II international monetary system. The April gathering had a similarly stated goal – a global economic restructuring.
DeFazio, meanwhile, has been linked to the DSA, the principal U.S. branch of the Socialist International and one of the world’s biggest and most influential socialist organizations.
Through the DSA, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, or CPC, was one of the programs of action the Socialist International realized in the early 1990s. The DSA helped to organize the members into the House Progressive Caucus, as the CPC was originally known.
The relationship between the DSA and CPC was evident on the DSA website, which previously listed Caucus founders as DSA members, including DeFazio.
The DSA-CPC files were subsequently removed from the Internet, although some remain accessible in the Internet archive.
After a list of alleged DSA members, including DeFazio, circulated on the Internet last year, long time DSA national director Frank Llewellyn claimed that not one member of Congress is a formal member of the DSA. He explained that in order to join, a person must fill out a form and pay dues.
Still, there is no masking the DSA’s central role in founding the CPC. DeFazio previously even hosted the CPC in his offices.
Socialist founded, website hosted by socialists
The Congressional Progressive Caucus boasts more than 80 members.
In the January/February 1998 issue of Chicago DSA’s “New Ground,” Ron Baiman identified Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts as leaders of the Progressive Caucus in Congress which DSA “helped to organize.”
Until November 2002, the website of the Progressive Caucus was hosted by the DSA. Following news reports that drew attention to the congressional website being hosted by the socialist organization, the list of CPC names was moved to the website of Sanders, I-Vt., an avowed socialist, and eventually to its own site.
The issue of the CPC being hosted on the DSA website rose again in June 2000 in connection with a heated dispute on the House floor between Defazio, Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., and David R. Obey, Wis., over the “merits of the F-22 fighter plane.”
When Cunningham stood to defend himself, he threw into his argument the fact the DSA website had a link to the CPC, which DeFazio then led.
Back in 2000, the relationship between the CPC and DSA was an open secret.
In an August 10, 2000, letter to the editor published in “The Kentucky Post,” it was reported that then-Democratic Rep. Ken Lucas had received campaign funds from Reps. Marcy Kaptur, John Lewis, George Miller, Nancy Pelosi, and Charles Rangel, “among others on the far-left.” The writer remarked that “those five names stand out because they are all members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus – a group closely aligned with the Democratic Socialists of America.”
The CPC still had not moved to its own website on April 23, 2002. Balint Vazsonyi responded thusly in the “Washington Times” to the hypothetical question, “‘What?” I hear you say. ‘Socialists in the Congress of the United States?’”
Wrote Vazsony: “Dozens, dear reader, dozens. And they make no secret of it. Although of late it has been refurbished and the address altered, they have their own website. They call themselves members of the Progressive Caucus, until recently an arm of the Democratic Socialists of America, itself an arm of the Socialist International. The Progressive Caucus may be a separate entity now, but the details of its program, as advertised on the Web site, are indistinguishable from that of the Socialist International.
“To their credit, they make no secret of it. Only the rest of us prefer not to believe it.”
In a follow-up article in November 2002, Vazsonyi dug deeper into the continued presence of the CPC on the DSA website. He discussed the issue of constitutionality and the ramifications of the relationship.
He wrote: “The Socialist International carries the torch for Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, V.I. Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Josef Stalin. Pay no attention to the desperate attempts by socialists to distance themselves from Stalin. For our purposes, it suffices to observe that every single tenet of the Socialist International is the exact opposite of the principles upon which America was founded, and which define the U.S. Constitution.”
The CPC moved its website in late 2002.
‘Socialists active in Congress’
In October 2009, the DSA newsletter reported that 70 congressional Democrats are active members.
The group also claimed 11 socialists sit on the House Judiciary Committee.
The DSA makes clear its preference for working within the Democratic Party for the change it seeks.
“Many socialists have seen the Democratic Party, since at least the New Deal, as the key political arena in which to consolidate this coalition, because the Democratic Party held the allegiance of our natural allies,” the group states in the “Where we stand” section of its website.
“Through control of the government by the Democratic Party coalition, led by anti-corporate forces, a progressive program regulating the corporations, redistributing income, fostering economic growth and expanding social programs could be realized.”
In addition to a national program of “massive redistribution of income from corporations and the wealthy to wage earners and the poor and the public sector,” the DSA also calls for a breaking down the American-style notions of nationalism and national sovereignty.
“A program of global justice can unite opponents of transnational corporations across national boundaries around a common program to transform existing international institutions and invent new global organizations designed to ensure that wages, working conditions, environmental standards and social rights are ‘leveled up’ worldwide,” the group says on its website. “The basis of cooperation for fighting the transnationals must be forged across borders from its inception. Economic nationalism and other forms of chauvinism will doom any expanded anti-corporate agenda.”
It also states in the group’s mission statement: “A democratic socialist politics for the 21st century must promote an international solidarity dedicated to raising living standards across the globe, rather than ‘leveling down’ in the name of maximizing profits and economic efficiency. Equality, solidarity, and democracy can only be achieved through international political and social cooperation aimed at ensuring that economic institutions benefit all people. Democratic socialists are dedicated to building truly international social movements – of unionists, environmentalists, feminists, and people of color – that together can elevate global justice over brutalizing global competition.”
While the DSA tries to paint distinctions between its brand of socialism and communism, before scrubbing its website, the site included a song list that included:
“The Internationale,” the worldwide anthem of Communism and socialism.
“Red Revolution” sung to the tune of “Red Robin,” with these lyrics: “When the Red Revolution brings its solution along, along, there’ll be no more lootin’ when we start shootin’ that Wall Street throng. …”
“Are You Sleeping, Bourgeoisie?” Lyrics included: “Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping? Bourgeoisie, Bourgeoisie. And when the revolution comes, We’ll kill you all with knives and guns, Bourgeoisie, Bourgeoisie.”
The DSA is a political action committee and bills itself as the heir to the defunct Socialist Party of America. Its chief organizing objective is to work within the Democratic Party as the primary, but not sole, method of achieving public ownership of private property and the means of production.
“Stress our Democratic Party strategy and electoral work,” explains an internal organizing document obtained by WND. “The Democratic Party is something the public understands, and association with it takes the edge off. Stressing our Democratic Party work will establish some distance from the radical subculture and help integrate you to the milieu of the young liberals.”
Close working relationship
Demonstrating the close relationship between the DSA and the Progressive Caucus, in October 2010 WND reported the Democratic chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee was caught on tape meeting with DSA leaders to discuss how the group can cooperate to strengthen President Obama and advance their “one-world” plans.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who has a long history with the DSA, was recorded promoting a “one-world” government while asking the socialist group to organize against the war in Afghanistan and in support of Obama’s policies.
Conyers was a special guest at a two-day convention in Detroit in March 1982 that resulted in the formation of DSA.
Conyers has spoken at numerous DSA events, including at the socialist group’s national dinner in 2008, where he was the keynote.
Conyers was one of 13 founders of Congressional Black Caucus, which long has promoted far-left causes. He is the most prominent lawmaker lobbying to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted murderer of a Philadelphia police officer. He has advocated on behalf of the Marxist Nicaraguan Sandinista dictatorship and has called for the U.S. to end its sanctions against Fidel Castro’s communist regime.
With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott