The unwritten rule of Washington debates about taxing and spending is to never consider anything new. But wouldn't it be wonderful if the pressure of the next few months' debate changed that?
Last month, 11 European countries, including France and Germany, moved forward on introducing a minuscule tax on trades in stocks, bonds and derivatives. The tax goes by many names. It's often called a Tobin tax, after the economist James Tobin. In Europe it goes by the more pedestrian financial transaction tax. In Britain, it goes by the wonderful Robin Hood tax, and is supported in an often clever campaign.
On this side of the Atlantic, there is a ghostly silence on a transaction tax in respectable political quarters. But that might change. This month, Sen. Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, and Rep. Peter DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon, plan to reintroduce their bill calling for just such a tax.
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