The bank fee announced today by the Obama administration is a very welcome first step in recouping the costs of the financial crash from its perpetrators. Wall Street’s till is overflowing – with cash that has come directly and indirectly from taxpayers. Ongoing taxpayer support extends far beyond the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and totals in the trillions.
Today’s action should only be a first step. It should be accompanied in the coming year by a speculation tax on financial transactions and a windfall tax on Wall Street bonuses and profits.
Additionally, Wall Street’s rapid return to profitability has been fueled by a return to the same risky practices that created the financial crash. Without meaningful restraints imposed on Wall Street – going beyond what the U.S. House of Representatives has so far adopted, including breaking up the too-big-to-fail financial institutions, among other measures – there is every likelihood of another financial meltdown.
Robert Weissman is president of Public Citizen.