This Is Why I Worked To Elect This Man!

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    I received this information in an email from Sen. Jim Webb’s office: Sen. Webb plans to reintroduce his Taxpayer Fairness Act as an amendment to the financial reform bill, S. 3217, when it comes up for debate.

    “During this debate on financial regulation, nothing seems more fair or appropriate than to make the American taxpayers whole after they infused our financial markets with capital in 2008 and saw them to recovery,” said Webb.

    Sen. Webb and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)  first introduced their idea of a one-time tax on bonuses as an amendment to the bill passed in March which extended certain tax provisions. The amendment stated that there should be a one-time windfall tax on bonuses paid in 2010 to executives of financial institutions that received $5 billion or more from the TARP program.

    According to the Congressional Budget Office, the amendment would raise at least $3.5 billion. The proposal would assess a 50 percent tax this tax year on bonuses above $400,000. Any money raised will be returned to the Treasury to reduce the budget deficit. Sen. Webb stated that he does not favor any sort of recurring tax on bonuses for executives in the financial sector.

    “Our political leaders should have the fortitude to require that excessive bonuses from these companies be repaid to the American people,” Sen. Webb said. “It is a targeted, sensible approach to ensure that the taxpayers who made possible the success of the biggest financial institutions benefit from that success – not just the executives of those institutions.”

    Jim Webb and Barbara Boxer have contended that the TARP program, along with actions by the Federal Reserve, mitigated risks to the largest banks and financial houses. “These executives got lucky, to the exact degree that our middle-class taxpayers got the shaft,” Sen. Webb said.

    There are even financial analysts who agree with the Boxer-Webb amendment. Sen. Webb quoted Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, who said in November of 2009: “Public finances will be devastated for decades: taxes will be higher and public spending lower.  Meanwhile, bankers are about to reap huge rewards. This damages the legitimacy of the market economy…’Windfall’ support should be matched by windfall taxes.”

    I say “Amen” to that. However, I believe this amendment, which should pass with bipartisan support, may well fall short of 51 votes. We can expect the 41 Republicans to vote against it. We can add in some of the conservative Democrats. It’s still worth the effort, though.

    (Update: The GOP must be doing some polling that shows just how dumb their refusal to allow financial reform to come up for debate actually is. They now have said they will drop their “filibuster” against S. 3217.)

    • jack

      Does anyone have a problem with the fact that this does not constitute “equal protection of the law”?

      Of course, the feral government is not bound by the equal protection clause, so it can discriminate with impunity.

    • Teddy Goodson

      what a precise and telling phrase! The fact is, IMO, that market economies always seem to require some sort of special protection (as does just about any human endeavor, theories notwithstanding).

      So we have subsidies to promote new industries, tariffs to protect and develop domestic products, depletion allowances for mining and oil, and so on again and again. Not least of all, we have regulations to make sure there is a level playing field and consumers are not taken advantage of—- which makes me wince every time the biggest, baddest marketers demand no regulation because it interferes with the operation of the free market. The market exists and works because of the protections and regulations.  

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      When someone says, “Sorry,” and the person receiving that message responds with, “Yes, you are,” that is a personal attack, i.e., the now-famous ad hominem attack.

      I agree, Teddy. “The market exists and works because of the protections and regulations.”  

      The so-called “free market” is anything but that. Competition necessarily creates winners and losers. Ultimately, every mature market becomes filled with oligopolies that set prices and divide their market up among themselves. Without regulation, competition fades away completely. All one has to do is read the post-Civil-War history of industrialization in the United States.

      Even the business-friendly Republican party of the early twentieth century saw the need for government intervention into the “free” markets. Teddy Roosevelt, after all, became the great “trust buster.”

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      Trolls can only survive on the “food” of conflict. I’m thinking of that old “joke,” “I refuse to get into a battle of wits with an unarmed man.”

    • Damian Karras

      If after the last two years, and eleven million jobs, someone says the financial institutions of the nation aren’t in need of some sensible, and urgent regulations, they are either willfully ignorant or they are profiting from the kind of Wild West banditry which has cost so many so much.

      Market economies made the country strong, and made it the premier economic power in the world. Through that entire period, they operated under some straightforward sensible regulations. It has only been the removal of those regulations, and a push to privatize every public industry (including our military, which has cost us LIVES AND BLOOD), that put us in the position to be had by the financial industry, and it’s cronies in Washington.

      Fundamentalism never works in the real world, only in theory. Free Market Fundamentalism has never, ever worked for the every day person, in any of the countries it’s been tried. It always ends up in a huge redistribution of wealth, upward. Existing or emerging middle classes are demolished, exactly as is happening here. Chile, Poland, Russia, Argentina, Korea, Indonesia, every single time in the last forty years. Whether or not that is the intent, it’s the result.