Wall Street billionaires have escaped paying their fair share of taxes for decades, thanks to laws they themselves have had an outsize influence in shaping. This bill requiring the ultrarich to pay some tax on their wealth, which was too often accumulated through predatory business models that extracted wealth from workers and communities, is an important step forward for economic justice.
Sen. Warren and Rep. Jayapal’s Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act of 2021 could not be a more timely reminder that the United States needs serious policy changes to address massive wealth and income inequality. Wall Street is the second-largest source of billionaire wealth, after the technology industry. While 8 million Americans slipped into poverty and half a million lives were lost to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic — all with a disproportionately large impact on communities of color — the wealth of U.S. billionaires almost doubled, up $1.3 trillion.
AFR joined a letter to the House of Representatives urging them to cosponsor the Wall Street Tax Act of 2021, H.R. 328. Also called the Financial Tax Transaction Act (FTT), the bill would create significant revenues and reduce risk and volatility, reorienting Wall Street’s focus away from speculation toward long-term investments that support Main Street businesses, employees, and working families.
News Release: Voting Record Highlights House Efforts to Protect Consumers and Hold Wall Street Accountable During the 116th Congress
Today, Americans for Financial Reform released a record of votes during the 116th Congress regarding consumer protections and Wall Street accountability. During the 116th Congress, the Democratic-led House of Representatives advanced a number of measures to strengthen consumer protections and to put in place enforcement tools to hold bad actors in the financial industry accountable for abusive, discriminatory, and fraudulent practices.
If he’s confirmed to run the SEC, there will be a lot that needs fixing, says Marcus Stanley, who worked with Gensler as a Senate staffer after the financial crisis. Stanley is now the policy director of Americans for Financial Reform. “It’s an absolutely critical regulator,” says Stanley, about the SEC. But, he says, “the SEC as an organization needs some change.” He says perhaps more than any other regulator, the SEC “continued with its pre-2008 record of deregulation, even after the financial crisis.”
“There’s an emphasis on working people, racial justice and inequality, and that’s a good place to start,” said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform, an advocacy group that met with Ms. Yellen this month. “But reversing things that the current Treasury Department has done is not enough.”
Gary Gensler has a strong track record from his time at the Commodities Futures Trading Commission of being willing to take on powerful industries. Under his leadership, this small and underfunded agency led the way to the first comprehensive regulation of U.S. over-the-counter derivatives markets, despite heavy opposition from industry lobbyists. Gensler will need to bring the same spirit and drive to the even greater task of bringing needed reform to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“The conflict of interest is just so completely glaring,” said Marcus Stanley, the policy director of Americans for Financial Reform, a nonpartisan Wall Street watchdog. “Almost all of ICE’s important activities are regulated in very fine detail by the C.F.T.C.”
Private equity pillaging of the retail industry has cost over half a million jobs amid over 18,000 store closures through February 2020, according to a new study, the first to examine job losses at the state level. The job losses occurred in every state, with more than 10,000 jobs lost in 20 states and more than 30,000 lost in California, Florida, and New York.
The Treasury Secretary has the authority to drive an ambitious agenda for economic, racial, and climate justice, and to use financial regulation as an important tool of that work. As Yellen has herself noted in recent remarks, this moment of crisis has made it particularly clear that a new administration needs to not only undo the dangerous Trump administration deregulation of Wall Street, but also move well beyond the preceding status quo.