Robin Hood comes to Washington

By jlee

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Washington, DC— As leaders of the largest 20 economies arrive in Cannes, France for the G20 Summit, international relief and development organization Oxfam urged the heads of state to throw their support behind a financial transaction tax, or “Robin Hood Tax.”

A tax on financial transactions averaging about 0.05% could raise at least $400 billion annually. The funds raised by such a tax should be split equally between governments where the money is raised and investments in crucial global causes. Such investments can help build the resilience of communities to adapt to climate change, create effective health care systems, ensure girls can attend school and reduce hunger and food insecurity across the developing world.

“Greed and negligence caused the financial crisis and that’s why we believe that the banks and speculators, financial wizards and hedge funds managers should pay this tiny tax that could raise substantial sums of money for our domestic and international priorities,” said Gawain Kripke, policy and research director at Oxfam America, speaking at a rally in Washington, DC organized by National Nurses United. “They benefitted from the frenzy and were bailed out by taxpayers – it is not unreasonable to ask for them to pay some back.”

Oxfam is part of a growing movement of development organizations, green groups, trade unions, celebrities, religious leaders and politicians campaigning to push the financial sector to pay up and generate much-needed public funds. Financier George Soros and more than 1,000 economists, including Nobel Prize winners, have voiced their support. Bill Gates will brief G20 leaders in Cannes on innovative finance mechanisms, including the “Robin Hood” taxes on transactions by banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are both calling for this tax, but the Obama administration has blocked any progress.

“One in seven people face hunger and the global economy is teetering, with poor people being hit the hardest. Today at the G20 summit, President Obama must realize the potential of the financial transaction tax or at least get out of the way and let his European colleagues to adopt it,” said Kripke.

Acclaimed actor and Oxfam Ambassador Bill Nighy joined National Nurses United and others from the global labor movement and the World Wildlife Fund at a press conference in Cannes, France to call for a global financial transaction tax ahead of the G20.

“Gambling by the financial sector was a main cause of the economic crisis but banks, bailed out by governments with trillions of dollars, are now returning to bonuses as usual,” said Nighy in Cannes. "But no one bailed out the people hit hardest by the financial crisis. The Robin Hood Tax would be small change for the banks but would truly make a big difference for the world.”

 

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