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50-cent Wall Street tax, $350B for states

By GERRY HARRINGTON, United Press International   |   June 29, 2011 at 4:00 AM   |   Comments

U.S. states would have $350 billion a year to fund public workers' benefits if Congress approved a 50-cent stock-trade surcharge, a small political party said.

The proposal from the grassroots Light Party, which claims to represent "a synthesis of the Republican, Democratic, Libertarian and Green parties," comes as a growing number of states seek to balance their budgets and cut their deficits by securing major wage and benefits concessions from public-employee unions and, in some states, ending collective bargaining for many of those unions.

The annual $350 billion could "go to the states and dramatically fund social programs, teachers, police officers, firemen, parks, etc.," the Light Party, based in Mill Valley, Calif., near San Francisco, said in a statement reviewed by United Press International ahead of its release.

The money could also finance Medicaid and unfunded federal mandates, perennial state-budget challenges, said the party, whose database includes more than 400,000 individuals and organizations.

"Wherever the pressing needs are," party founder Da Vid Raphael, a holistic physician and director of the San Francisco Medical Research Foundation, told UPI. "It's a windfall amount of money that's sitting out there."

About 1,000 unionized registered nurses demonstrating outside the New York Stock Exchange last week called for the surcharge, saying the billions could "go back to our communities and go back to jobs and go back to healthcare," said Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro of National Nurses United, the organizing group.

The Light Party statement also recommended a 1 percent levy on international currency movements, "as proposed by [late] Nobel laureate [economist] James Tobin of Yale University."

"A small levy of 1 percent would have virtually no effect on global capital flow and will generate $3 trillion annually for sustainable international and national economic development," the statement said.

The so-called Tobin tax, first proposed in 1972, was originally criticized because it could possibly be evaded, might not yield the expected benefits and could unwittingly hurt global economic growth by discouraging financial transactions.

Raphael told UPI those arguments are "a non-starter" because the levy amount is so small.

The European Commission Wednesday is expected to propose a Tobin-type financial-transaction surcharge or another levy to raise $43 billion a year for the European Union as part of a multi-year EU budget plan.

The money would lower the 27 EU countries' individual budget contributions while they spend billions seeking to stabilize Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Another proposed Light Party reform is to cut the corporate tax rate on overseas earnings.

The cut would slice the overseas-earnings rate to a single digit from 35 percent to entice U.S. multinational companies to "repatriate their earnings" and invest in the U.S. economy, the party said.

"You've got to find the right price point, but the change has to be dramatic," Raphael said.

Right now the U.S. tax code discourages companies from bringing their earnings back into the United States, the party said.

The party's proposals are part of a "synergistic" seven-point program to "resolve our current socioeconomic and ecological challenges," said the party, whose vision is "health, peace and freedom for all."

How does the party differ from the two major parties and other emerging grassroots political movements?

"[President Barack] Obama is about hope, Mitt Romney is about believing in America and the Tea Party is about limiting government and cutting spending," Raphael said. "We're about manifesting a vision."

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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