Hillary Clinton comes under lots of attacks. Most of the charges range from the far-fetched (her alleged complicity in the Benghazi tragedy) to the hard-to-discern-what-the-issue-is (her “damn e-mails”).
However, the one line of attack that is substantial is her closeness to Wall Street. Many of the economic policies of her husband’s presidency - the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the refusal to regulate derivatives - were formulated by top aides who were instrumental in the explosive growth of the financial sector and who were trusted consiglieres to both Bill and Hillary.
Clinton recognizes that stratospheric levels of economic inequality require some reining in of Wall Street’s gluttony. She’s called for a small tax on high-frequency trading, a “risk fee” on a range of big financial institutions and a hike in the capital gains tax on short-term shareholders. However, she opposes a resurrection of the Glass-Steagall limits on commercial banks.
So is there anything Clinton can do to rid herself of the Wall Street albatross? Of course there is. She should say that if elected president, she’d subject the Wall Streeters to a higher tax rate than anyone else.
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Those taxpayers whose incomes put them in the highest bracket and who work for banks, private equity firms, hedge funds and the like should pay more than their fellow multimillionaires.
It’s plainly in the nation’s interest to shrink the scope and sway of the financial sector, and the most effective way to do that is to tax the incomes of its highest earners at Eisenhower-era levels (when the highest marginal rate was 91 percent).
It’s no coincidence that it was during this time that the share of income going to the working and middle classes soared, that U.S. companies funded expansions out of their own earnings rather than the equity markets and those companies offered employees decent pay and job stability.
As the top tax rates fell, Wall Street’s income and power rose - with profoundly negative consequences for the nation.
Clinton says she intends to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. That would be not only sound economics but also the one way she could definitively yank the Wall Street albatross from around her neck.