'They Frankly Own the Place'
Adair Turner, head of Britain's Financial Services Authority, is arguing that the attention to bonuses is, at best, a “populist diversion” from policies that would really slow the financial sector. Among those policies? A global financial transactions tax.
I agree with him, of course, but I'd be a lot more optimistic if someone, somewhere, had managed to respond to the financial crisis by implementing a national financial transactions tax, or really any piece of legislation the industry didn't want. In this country, we're staring down swollen deficits and eye-popping levels of long-term debt, and even so, there's been no serious push to raise $100 billion a year from a tax that would tamp down on the speculative, high-speed trading that we want less of anyway. It would seem like a win-win policy, until you realize that it's actually lose-lose, as the relevant variable is not the national interest, but the interests of the financial sector. As Sen. Dick Durbin -- a member of the majority party's leadership team -- said, "The banks ... are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. They frankly own the place."
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