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Republican drama queens are making ready to wax hysterical over the debt ceiling and the possibility of going over the so-called fiscal cliff looming at the end of this year if the two parties can’t reach a deal.

I’m inclined to agree with Paul Krugman who has donned the garb of the Tarot Fool dancing at the edge of the chasm and singing:

Just say no, and go over the cliff if necessary. ...
stand your ground, Mr. President,
and don’t give in to threats.
No deal is better than a bad deal.

Wait! Don’t leap yet! There may be another way:

The Securities Turnover Excise Tax
Also known as the STET.


In the United States, the STET was used to fund the Spanish American War.

Re-instatement of the STET was briefly proposed in 1990, as a part of US deficit reduction measures.

John Maynard Keynes, in The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money suggested that an excise tax on transactions and trades would discourage speculation in the stock market.

In 1934, muckraking journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair ran for Governor of California on the End Poverty in California plan. The fourth plank of the plan called for repeal of the state's sales tax and imposition of "a tax on stock transfers at the rate of 4 cents per share."

The STET could be of service in many ways. It would, of course, be a source of revenue.

But, it would also serve to cool and moderate the volatility of the U.S. stock market. Assessing this pesky little tax would slow down algorithmic trades that occur in the millionth of a second, it would serve to moderate the imbalance between the monstrous gains of Wall Street as opposed to the monstrous depredation of Main Street.

Don't be afraid, Democrats. Overpower your cowardice. You know you can do it.

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