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A Green New Deal for New York

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A Green New Deal for New York
by Howie Hawkins

With Democrats like Andrew Cuomo, who needs Republicans?

Cuomo, the Democratic candidate for governor, is echoing Republican calls for caps on state spending and taxes. Reinforcing the Republicans, he explicitly rejects higher taxes on the rich who have enjoyed three decades of repeated tax cuts and, for the last two years, the biggest bailout and transfer of wealth in world history. Cuomo's big bankers' agenda means deep cuts for public jobs, schools, colleges, parks, health care, and any prospect for economic recovery and new private sector jobs.

My Green campaign for governor offers an alternative to this dismal future, a Green New Deal. We will make the rich pay their fair share of taxes again to finance public services and investment to revive the economy. That begins with guaranteeing living-wage jobs, fully funding public schools and colleges, and providing quality health care for all New Yorkers through an efficient single payer system. It includes a state-owned bank to target investments into a sustainable green economic recovery based on renewable energy, mass transit, clean manufacturing, and organic agriculture.

Andy Cuomo's conservative fiscal policies, along with President Obama's freeze on all federal discretionary spending except military, show that the Democratic leadership has purged the last vestiges of their New Deal legacy. They are taking us back to the depression economics of Herbert Hoover, the recipe for a vicious circle of debt and depression.

With consumers and businesses over-indebted and unable to increase consumption and investment, only government spending can restart the economy. Spending and tax caps will only increase the deficits and debts. Without public spending, economic stagnation will deepen, tax revenues will decline, public spending will be cut again to balance the budget, thus deepening the economic decline further.

This is the economic agenda of the big Wall Street bankers. They would rather balance the budget on the backs of public sector workers and the general public that uses the public services and infrastructure than pay their fair and proper share of taxes. Instead of taxing Wall Street upfront to pay for public spending, their paid-for politicians get government to borrow from them and pay interest for it.

This is politics, not economics; money-drenched politicians, not impersonal market forces. The state's fiscal crisis is contrived by the politicians on behalf of the Wall Street interests that finance both of the old parties.
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They had the money last year and gave it back! The state collected $16 billion in the Stock Transfer Tax and gave it back to Wall Street. That would have turned the $9 billion deficit into a $7 billion surplus.

The Stock Transfer Tax was instituted in 1905, but the state has been rebating it since 1981 as part of a three decades long failed policy of tax cuts for the rich. Instead of motivating investment in the real economy of production as advertised, this policy has only transferred wealth to the rich who speculate short term in financial paper assets--which just rearranges claims to income from existing production--instead of investing long term in new productive assets.

The Green Party wants to keep the Stock Transfer Tax. That's about $16 billion.

We want to restore the progressive income tax structure New York had in the 1970s. With that structure today, we could cut the income taxes of 95% of New Yorkers and still raise $8 billion more in state revenues.

We want a 50% Bankers Bonus Tax on the over $20 billion in 2009 cash bonuses Wall Street handed out after the taxpayers bailed them out. That would raise another $10 billion.
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Put these three progressive tax reforms together and the state would have a surplus of $25 billion instead of a deficit of $9 billion. With that $25 billion the Greens would:
- Put the unemployed to work in public works and services.
- Fully fund our public schools.
- Make community colleges, CUNY, and SUNY tuition free.
- Establish a state-owned bank to invest in a sustainable green economic recovery.

We call that the Green New Deal for New York.

The Greens will pick up the New Deal torch the Democrats have dropped. We will reclaim the New Deal's goals of Full Employment and Universal Health Care that the Democratic leadership has abandoned. And we will "green" our New Deal with policies to promote ecological sustainability and economic democracy.

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Howie Hawkins is a Teamster who unloads trucks at UPS in Syracuse, New York. He has been an organizer in peace, justice, labor, and the environmental movements since the late 1960s and was a co-founder of the Green Party in the United States. His (more...)

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