Wall Street's dangerous manipulation of our economy has helped divert most of all new income to the top one percent, contributing to the most unequal level of wealth and income distribution of any major country on earth.
Today, we live in the richest country in the history of the world, but that reality means little because much of that wealth is controlled by a tiny handful of individuals. The skyrocketing level of income and wealth inequality is not only grotesque and immoral, it is economically unsustainable.
The reality is that for the past 40 years, Wall Street and the billionaire class have rigged the rules to redistribute wealth and income to the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country. As a result, Wall Street exists as an island unto itself, benefiting only the extremely wealthy while using our money to get rich.
That ends when I am president. Let me tell you what I'm going to do, then sign on to endorse my plan to take on Wall Street.
Tax Wall Street Speculation to Make College Tuition Free
Too many firms on Wall Street using high-speed trading to try to make a quick buck. But it's risky and unproductive. Banks can execute thousands of stock trades a second thanks to sophisticated computer algorithms.
Wall Street can keep doing this if it wants—but they'll have to pay a tax on every one of those trades. And this tax on Wall Street speculation would be enough to pay for my plan to make tuition free at every public college or university.
Break Up Banks that are Too Big to Fail
In the midst of all of this grotesque inequality in our country sits a handful of financial institutions that are still so large, the failure of any one would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans and send the world economy into crisis.
Most of the major Wall Street financial institutions that we bailed out because they were "too big to fail" are now bigger than they used to be. The six largest financial institutions now have assets equivalent to nearly 60% of our GDP, issue 35% of the mortgages, and oversee 65% of credit cards.
My view: If it's too big to fail, it's too big to exist. That's the bottom line. As president, I will break up the big banks and restore some sanity to our banking system.
Make Banking Boring: Reign in the Recklessness
Banking should be boring. It shouldn't be about making as much profit as possible by gambling on esoteric financial products. The goal of banking should be to provide affordable loans to small and medium-sized businesses in the productive economy, and to Americans who need to purchase homes and cars.
That is not what these huge financial institutions are doing. They're instead creating an economy which is not sustainable from a moral, economic, or political perspective. It's a rigged economy that must be changed in fundamental ways.
We need banks that invest in the job-creating productive economy. We do not need more speculation with the American economy hanging in the balance.
Unrig the Tax System
Our tax system is wildly unfair — rigged to benefit the very rich. Major corporations that earn billions in profits stash their money in tax havens and pay nothing in federal income taxes, while billionaire hedge fund managers pay a lower effective tax rate than nurses or teachers.
In order to reverse the massive transfer of wealth and income from the middle class to the very rich that we have seen in recent years, we need real tax reform which makes the wealthy and profitable corporations begin to pay their fair share of taxes. It is fiscally irresponsible that the U.S. Treasury loses about $100 billion a year because corporations and the rich stash their profits in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and other tax havens.
We need a tax system which is fair and progressive. Children should not go hungry in this country while profitable corporations and the wealthy avoid their tax responsibilities.
We Can Do This
The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time, and it is the great political issue of our time.
I can understand how this might feel daunting. We are up against a billionaire class that has bought our political system to enrich itself, and is now faced with the breakup of their oligarchy.
Know this: when people come together to organize, we can beat any amount of money thrown around by the Koch Brothers, Goldman Sachs executives, or anyone else.
Our political revolution is underway, and when it is built, we will win not just against Wall Street, but we will win the White House.
Thank you for standing with us.
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