Wall Street needs to pay its fair share

I read with interest the letter by Congressman McKinley bemoaning the jobless recovery saying that ” what’s happening on Wall Street is not translating to Main Street across America.” So true.

Since he asked “What can Congress do to help?” I’d like to make some commonsense suggestions to our representative that would help our local Main Street businesses, struggling working families and those who, through no fault of their own, find themselves without a decent-paying job.

Stop digging the hole deeper! McKinley voted for H.R. 1406: Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 that passed the House recently. Despite its warm and fuzzy name, this proposed change in employment law would allow employers to pay their workers nothing extra for overtime work, other than the potentially empty promise of compensatory time – “comp time” – that can only be used at the employer’s discretion. Keep us on “time and a half” for our overtime, please! We have bills to pay.

Make Wall Street pay its fair share! Instead of whacking our overtime pay, he could co-sponsor the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act – which imposes a 0.03 percent (three hundredths of a percent) excise tax on the purchase of securities. We pay taxes on everything – the pack of chewing gum at the 7-Eleven to the used car bought with an income tax check. What taxes do all the million and billionaire Wall Street hustlers pay to buy and sell all that stock? None, there is no sales tax or “transaction tax” on all that paper shuffling they do to make their billions. Why not?

Plug the offshore tax haven loopholes and other ways the tax system is rigged in favor of big, multinational companies who hire stables of lobbyists in Washington. A recent national PIRG report released in West Virginia by our Citizen Action Group showed that the average West Virginia taxpayer in 2012 would have to shoulder an extra $621 in taxes to compensate for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens. The total cost of making up for this lost revenue in our state was reported as over $490 million. The West Virginia small business would have to pay nearly $2,300 to cover the cost of this loss to the state’s treasury.

Verizon, GE, and DuPont paid NO income taxes in at least two of the last four years. Working families and Main Street business in our state and across the nation have to make up the difference and it’s just not fair.

We don’t have a fiscal crisis in this country, we have a jobs crisis. We need to put folks back to work so they can spend their paychecks into our local economy. Make the big, multinational conglomerates pay their fair share so we can keep our teachers, firefighters, police, librarians and all the others working to make our communities safer, smarter, and more productive.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Gary Zuckett is Director of West Virginia Citizen Action Group, a consumer watchdog organization.