Hawkins, Nader Challenge Cuomo on Stock Transfer Tax

Hawkins  Challenges Cuomo's Silence on Halting NY's $16 Billion Annual Rebate to Wall  Street

(Buffalo, NY) Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for  Governor, challenged Andy Cuomo to come clean today about why he is refusing to  talk about the rebate of the state's Stock Transfer Tax.

New York  State presently collects a very small tax on each stock transfer, but then  rebates the tax, now in excess of $16 billion annually, back to Wall Street  speculators. The tax is hardly noticeable for anyone who invests in Wall Street,  primarily hitting those who treat the Stock Market as a casino, making hundreds  of trades daily.

"Why is Mr. Cuomo, the anointed front runner,  hiding the Stock Transfer Tax from the public when it is an obvious way to  bridge the state budget deficit? Why does he rule out higher taxes on the rich when they have more money than ever? Why he won't make them pay their fair  share? They'll still be rich after paying their fair share. All the politicians  in Albany act like we're out of money and debate over what services to cut, all  the while refusing to tell New Yorkers about the $16 billion they hand back to  Wall Street speculators," said Hawkins, a member of the Teamsters Union who unloads trucks for UPS in Syracuse.

Hawkins will speak at a joint  appearance with consumer advocate Ralph Nader in Buffalo. Nader will "outline a  proposal to completely reduce the New York State deficit for the coming year and  prevent layoffs of thousands of workers, in one easy step." They will speak at  Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center, 562 Genesee St., Buffalo at 7 PM, with a press  conference at 6 PM. (Nader statement at bottom)

"The Stock  Transfer Tax doesn't impact upon people making serious long term investments. It  makes those who manipulate stocks for short term bets pay a price for doing so.  Democrats had no problems bailing out bankers and Wall Street financiers for all  the damage they did with their speculative games to our economy, but they don't  want to bail out average New Yorkers or those who saw their retirement funds  collapse due to Wall Street's misdeeds," said Hawkins.

Cuomo has  been one of the principal recipients of donations from hedge funds managers, who  making significant profits from investing in Charter Schools due to generous tax  breaks. Cuomo has been a strong proponent of expanding charter schools in New  York. Cuomo's average donation for this election has been $2,666, indicating  that his financial supporters are quite well-off financially. More than 130 of  his donors have given in excess of $37,800; an additional 544 have given in  access of $10,000. (http://www.observer.com/2010/politics/new-york-observer%E2%80%99s-campaign-2010-scorecard-1)

"One  of the goals of progressive taxes is to ensure a more fair distribution of  wealth, which is also important to increase spending power for average residents  and stimulate the economy. New York has the greatest income inequality in the  US, while the US has the greatest inequality among the industrial democracies.  Cuomo wants to lock this in, supporting a state tax system where the janitor in  Trump Towers pays a greater share of his income in state and local taxes than  Trump does," noted Hawkins.

"The greed of Wall Street speculators  is behind the recent economic crisis, including the housing crisis and the  massive decline in retirement funds. Yet those who have caused the current  economic crisis were the ones that benefited from the trillions in bailouts from  Congress. The ongoing Wall Street bailout is the greatest transfer of wealth in  world history. As Governor, unlike Andy Cuomo, I will stand up to Wall Street  and make them bail out Main Street and pay their fair share of taxes," noted  Hawkins.

Since the administration of Governor Mario Cuomo, NY has  awarded huge tax cuts to the rich that now cost the state $16 billion annually  in revenue. If NY went back to our income tax system of the 1970s, with  adjustments for inflation, 95% of us would get a tax cut - yet the state would  collect $8 billion more in taxes.

With Wall Street handing out over $20  billion in 2009 cash bonuses, a 50% Bankers' Bonus Tax on cash bonuses over  $50,000 would generate another $10 billion for the state  treasury.

"The rich are hoarding their money. They are sitting on  $10 trillion in cash and liquid assets in their personal accounts, plus $1.8  trillion cash in corporate coffers. The rich speculating for short term gains  from existing productive assets instead of investing long term in new productive  assets to get the economy going again. We need to tax them and put some of that money to better use through public spending and investing in the new productive  assets we need for a new jobs in a sustainable green economic recovery," added  Hawkins.

In a “A New Deal for New York,” Mike Wallace outlines the  history of NY's Stock Transfer Tax. A stock transfer tax was levied by the  federal government to help pay for the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and  World War I. New York adopted one of its own in 1905, despite threats from the  New York Stock Exchange that if passed it would instantly depart to New Jersey. The tax is up to 5 cents per share, up to a maximum of $350 per transaction. In  1965, when New York State introduced a sales tax, it limited the amount of local  sales taxes to 2 percent. Because New York City’s sales tax was already 3  percent, it got to keep the stock transfer tax as a consolation prize.

In 1979, the state began the current rebate program, but continued  to collect the tax since it was legally obligated to ensure that the bonds that had refinanced NYC would be repaid. The state did give New York City a “stock transfer tax incentive aid” of about $100 million annually. The state eliminated  the aid entirely in 2001. In 1999, when several European exchanges joined forces  and abolished transfer taxes in an effort to capture business from NYSE and the  London Stock Exchange, some of the latter’s members insisted that England  immediately eliminate its hefty tax, lest the fiscal roof fall in. The British  government refused, being made of sterner stuff than the one in Albany. The  London Exchange, Wallace concludes, “continues to flourish  mightily.”

A 2003 poll commissioned by the AFL-CIO showed that by  63% to 24%, New Yorkers favored re-instituting a stock transfer tax of one or  two cents per share on stocks traded on the New York Stock  Exchange.

Remarks  by Ralph Nader, Buffalo, New York August 3, 2010
“New York State is  in dire straits— with growing unemployment, home foreclosures and other economic  deprivations brought about by a reckless Wall Street-induced recession.   Wall Street is back making record bonuses and profits, after a massive taxpayer  bailout rescued its greed, speculation and looting of America's pensions,  savings and mutual funds.

This year, New York State's projected  budget deficit is just over $9 billion.  Since 1981, year after year, in  one of the more bizarre surrenders in the history of American taxation, the  state collects billions in stock transfer taxes and instantly rebates them all  back to Wall Street.  This year, similar to ones in 30 other countries, the  stock transfer tax will amount to about $16 billion.  Retaining this tax  revenue will erase the state's entire deficit, restore major pending cuts in  essential services and prevent the layoffs of tens of thousands of workers in  New York.

Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for Governor, ex  Marine, author, civic leader for years in Syracuse and working teamster, is  campaigning all over the state championing the retention of this $16  billion.

This issue should be front and center in the gubernatorial  race this fall. Voters should demand that Andrew Cuomo and Rick Lazio stop  ducking and call out a taxpayer-saved Wall Street to assume its fair share of  taxes for maintaining New York State's public services.

This is not  just a political issue;  it is a moral issue for the securities industry's  giant firms known throughout the country for their speculative greed and  recklessness.”