Demand 21st Century New York Transportation Infrastructure Paid for by Wall Street!

UFAAUnited Front Against Austerity | TWSPTax Wall Street Party

Morning Briefing | Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Report by TWSP Transportation Advisor

An agreement has finally been reached between the State of New York and the City of New York on a 2015-2019 Metropolitan Transportation Authority capital budget of $30 billion. This is the largest budget in MTA history and it insures the completion of major extensions and improvements to the Metro New York transportation infrastructure, as well as decades-overdue repairs and equipment replacements. But the agreement is mostly unfunded. New York City and New York State are considering a gaggle of regressive taxes, court fines, and a predatory giveaway of tolls from a shady “Congestion Pricing” scheme to make up for the MTA budget shortfall. The Tax Wall Street Party (TWSP) and United Front Against Austerity (UFAA) welcome this vital infrastructure measure and demand that New York authorities adopt non-regressive public financing and lending to build it, including collecting New York’s landmark Wall Street Financial Transactions tax raise to 1%, plus zero-percent Federal Reserve lending for infrastructure spending.

In just four years, the projected $30 billion of MTA spending will deliver immense improvements for 21st Century New Yorkers. The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) will connect to Grand Central Terminal, the LIRR’s congested Ronkonkoma line will upgrade to double-track operation, Positive Train Control (PTC) collision prevention will be added to the LIRR and Metro North systems, and the Second Avenue Subway’s Phase 2 will extend the line from 96th to 125th Street. The aging 35+ year old R46 subway car fleet will be replaced with 900 new cars. So will the 30 year-old LIRR M-3 car fleet, along with a complete fleet replacement for the Staten Island Railway. And it will become possible for Metro North trains to run over the Bronx’s Hell Gate Bridge and into Penn Station.

The MTA budget shortfall is between $10-14 billion and the State and City have been at odds about who would close it and how. The state was willing to put up $8 billion, but NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio had only committed to $600 million. The issue became urgent on September 11, 2015 when a subway tunnel wall collapsed due to water damage, causing a G train to derail outside Brooklyn’s busy Hoyt-Schemerhorn station. Luckily no passengers were injured seriously, but the accident brought the parties back to the table. The City agreed to add an additional $3 billion to close the gap.

Neither Governor Cuomo nor Mayor De Blasio have addressed where this new funding will come from. During heated discussions, four options have came to the table.

  1. A payroll tax on workers in the 12 counties served by the MTA.
  2. Earmarking substantial fines and settlements of approximately $4 billion levied by the state against large banks for malfeasance and misfeasance.
  3. Lifting the cap on the state gasoline tax.
  4. Adopting the latest version of a controversial “Congestion Pricing” scheme that would electronically track and tax motorists within the city, as they drive on the previously free public streets and bridges.

The Tax Wall Street Party and United Front Against Austerity certainly welcome tangible benefits paid for with the settlements from bankers’ improprieties, but this is not a reliable long term source of funding. The other three sources represent extremely regressive taxes. At a time when the middle class is hard-hit by depression and declining family income, an increased tax on income is unacceptable. The gas tax frequently fails to produce expected revenue and is extremely susceptible to economic downturns, which can result in stillborn transportation programs. A sad example of this phenomenon is the Miami Metrorail. An increased sales tax was heralded as a way to greatly expand the reach of mass transit in Miami-Dade. In reality, it failed to deliver enough for a sweeping rail transit system and only one line is presently operational. There is no funding available for expansion.

Of the three regressive taxes, the revived Congestion Pricing scheme is riding a wave of publicity. A group called “Move NY” led by self-proclaimed “Gridlock Sam” Schwartz, a former New York City transportation advisor, is leading the new charge. A close parallel to the Orwellian surveillance and taxing bubble that now limits outside access to central London, Schwartz’s plan imposes a $5 fare electronically at all gateways to the Manhattan Business District south of 60th St. It also taxes trips over the East River bridges, which have traditionally been free. The present plan would lower fares on outer borough bridges not connecting to the Manhattan core. The scheme has attracted growing support from Ydaris Rodriguez, the Chairman of the City Council Transportation Committee, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. This is your friendly Democratic Party at work.

Familiar labels of “common sense” have been used for this plan. Despite these attempts to camouflage this outrage, Congestion Pricing is a regressive grab of citizen and business funds for formerly free, public facilities. It cannot be construed as a progressive funding scheme. One of the Tax Wall Street Party’s core principles is a 1% tax on all Wall Street transactions – stocks, bonds, and derivatives. The funding for transportation and other infrastructure must be provided by Wall Street tax revenue.

This should be easier to accomplish in New York State than anywhere else, because New York already has a significant financial turnover tax on the books. New York’s Stock Transfer Tax has been state law since 1905. This provides an estimated $10-15 billion in revenue, but the entire proceeds of the tax is immediately refunded back to Wall Street firms. The fact that the stock transfer tax is immediately refunded is what allows Wall Street bonuses to be so obscenely high. This excess cash is also the secret of why Wall Street has so much excess cash to invest in the presidential campaigns of the two major parties. The New York State refund of this money is a national problem since it allows Wall Street to control so much of US political life.

When you hear the call for sacrifice, remember that at the same time Wall Street is paying no taxes. This has the added benefit of limiting derivatives. Derivatives are the current plague of mankind with trading in the thousands of trillions. Massive infrastructure projects will take large concrete capital investments. Such funding should be provided with $1 trillion slices of 0% credit from the Federal Reserve. Wall Street was offered $27 trillion dollars in no interest loans at the beginning of this depression 2009-10. It’s time to direct that credit creating power to states and local municipalities. There remains a glut of unemployed or underemployed workers and decaying infrastructure. Bring these ingredients together with union level jobs providing 21st century infrastructure with 0% credit from the Fed. Do not get duped by regressive taxation. Support the only truly progressive tax by making Wall Street pay.

In Argentina Presidential Election, Kirchner Loyalist Daniel Scioli Narrowly Leading Reactionary Opposition

Daniel Osvaldo Scioli was the 33rd Vice President of Argentina from 2003 to 2007, under Néstor Kirchner, and has been Governor of Buenos Aires since 2007 and is now running head to head for President in this tight race.

Report by Bernie Brown, Bay Area, CA Local

Argentina’s presidential election was so close on Sunday that it has now entered a runoff. The runoff election will be held in one month on November 22, 2015. The Tax Wall Street Party regards Daniel Scioli as the best choice for Argentina.

Leading candidate Daniel Scioli is the presidential candidate representing Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s Front for Victory Party. Scioli has promised to uphold the core elements of “Kirchnerism,” a widely popular policy based on trade protectionism, social welfare, defense of the working classes, industrialization, & Latin American unity. Under these policies, Argentina has enjoyed 8% per year growth fueled by ample productive jobs and valuable agricultural exports.

A Scioli victory and the continued existence of Kirchnerism is bitterly opposed by the packs of Anglo-American hedge funds eager to reverse Argentina’s protectionist policy and restore the neoliberal order and privatization schemes of the 1990s.

‘“Scioli is with the poor people,” said María Rosa González, 66, a maid who voted for him on Sunday. She explained that her late father, a corn harvester, had been able to claim a state pension under a 2005 law supported by the Kirchners in which workers who had not paid contributions could collect retirement benefits. “This government helped the people. It’s on display.”’ [i]

This week, in one of her final foreign relations actions before stepping down later this year, Cristina Kirchner held a video conference call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, laying out plans for development of trade, expanding economic ties, and expanding cooperation in investment. It is hoped that a Scioli presidency will continue the deepening of bilateral relations with the Russian state and the dirigistic economic policies begun by Kirchner.

[i] “In Argentina Elections, Tight Vote Yields Presidential Runoff”

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