A broad coalition of nurses, students, religious and civil rights groups, environmentalists, labor and housing advocates on Tuesday praised Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) plan to use a so-called Robin Hood tax on stock transactions to fund tuition at four-year public colleges and universities.
"What too few are willing to say is that we must demand more revenue from corporations and the 1 percent to level the playing field."
—George Goehl, National People's Action
Sanders introduced two bills on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.—one to eliminate undergraduate college tuition fees for students attending public colleges and universities while lowering interest rates on student loans, and the other setting a nominal tax on Wall Street stock sales and transfers in order to provide resources for jobs and healthcare for all, affordable housing, eradicating HIV/AIDS, and fighting both poverty and climate change.
Sanders told the Burlington Free Press, in his home state of Vermont: "The program that we're offering will be a grant program by which the federal government puts in $2 and the states put in $1," Sanders said. "Now, $70 billion is a lot of money, but in a nation in which we lose $100 billion every year because corporations stash their money in tax havens around the world, that's one way you can approach it."
"What we are going to be dealing with tomorrow is a transaction fee on large stock transfers," Sanders continued. "So we're going to ask Wall Street, whose greed and recklessness drove us into the recession that we're climbing out of right now, to start helping us fund college education."
Flanked by progressive supporters, Sanders said Tuesday: "The time is long overdue for the American Congress to start listening to the needs of the American people and not just Wall Street. This is not a radical idea. Only in a Congress dominated by Wall Street and big money is this considered a radical idea."
RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United and a leader of the Robin Hood tax campaign, heralded the bills.
"The time is long overdue for the American Congress to start listening to the needs of the American people and not just Wall Street. This is not a radical idea. Only in a Congress dominated by Wall Street and big money is this considered a radical idea."
—Senator Bernie Sanders
"We applaud Sen. Sanders for this bold and far sighted step," said DeMoro ahead of the press conference. "Free college education, as many other countries already provide, opens the door for greater economic opportunity, reducing income inequality, and a better life for all Americans."
Citing "the irreplaceable bond between good health and economic security and social justice," DeMoro said the Robin Hood tax "is the perfect way to fund this program, as well as providing the resources we need for other vital humanitarian needs, including healthcare and good paying jobs for all, affordable housing, eradicating poverty and environmental justice. It is the hallmark of a civilized society and a more just nation."
And National People's Action executive director George Goehl added, "Income inequality is now at the center of our national political discourse, with politicians of every stripe recognizing it as a major problem of our time. What too few are willing to say is that we must demand more revenue from corporations and the 1 percent to level the playing field."