Harry Potter, Walking Dead Celebrities Team Up to Promote Wall Street Tax

Forget flesh-eating zombies and Lord Voldemort, celebrities from Harry Potter movies and the Walking Dead TV show are now going up against some real power. In a short film released today, some of Europe’s biggest film stars promote a financial transaction tax, which Wall Street lobbyists and their European counterparts fiercely oppose.

The three-minute film’s director is David Yates, who made the last four Harry Potter movies. Actors include: Andrew Lincoln (star zombie-fighter on the hit AMC TV show “The Walking Dead”), Bill Nighy (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Love, Actually”), Javier Cámara (star of Pedro Almodóvar films “Talk to Her” and “Bad Education”), Clémence Poésy (“Harry Potter”), and Heike Makatsch (“Love, Actually”).

The video is timed to influence the final phase of negotiations over a regional financial transaction tax in Europe. In January 2013, 11 EU member states formed a “coalition of the willing” to coordinate such a tax. These countries include: Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia and Slovakia. The European Union President has identified May 6, 2014 as the expected date for a final agreement.

The starting point for negotiations is a European Commission proposal for a tax of 0.1% on stock and bond trades and 0.01% on derivatives that would generate an estimated 31 billion euros ($US 42 billion) per year.

The celebrity video is set 10 years in the future, with Lincoln anchoring a newscast looking back at the impact of the tax. Bankers from Spain, Germany, and France boast about how the tax has generated revenues to help fund public services in their countries and combat poverty and climate change – shaming a British banker (Nighy) over his country’s failure to implement the tax.

The international aid agency Oxfam helped produce the film. For four years, the Institute for Policy Studies has worked with Oxfam and labor, environmental, public health, and other civil society groups around the world to advance proposals for the financial transaction tax.

Despite intense financial industry opposition, leaders of France and Germany are expected to reiterate their support at a summit in Paris on February 19. A successful conclusion to the European negotiations will help boost momentum in the United States. While the Obama administration is not yet supportive, there are several congressional proposals that include some form of financial transaction tax.

Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. Peter DeFazio have proposed a 0.03% tax on stock, bond and derivative trades, with a tax credit offset for contributions to qualified tax-favored accounts, such as 401(k) retirement funds. Rep. Keith Ellison has introduced the Inclusive Prosperity Act, which proposes tax rates of 0.5% on stock, 0.1% on bond, and 0.005% on derivative trades, with an offset for taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes under $50,000 per individual or $75,000 per family.

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the Harkin-DeFazio proposal could raise $350 billion over 10 years.

Beyond the revenue benefits, many financial experts argue that the tax would help curb dangerous short-term speculation. IPS has helped organize a letter signed by more than 50 financial professionals, which states “These taxes will rebalance financial markets away from a short-term trading mentality that has contributed to instability in our financial markets.”

In a January 2013 poll conducted by Hart Research, 62% of Americans approved of a “small tax on all stock/bond/market trades.”

“The people have been behind this for some time now,” said Sarah Anderson, Institute for Policy Studies Global Economy Project Director. “Having major cultural figures join the fight will greatly increase the chances of overcoming Wall Street’s opposition.”

VIDEO LINK: http://bit.ly/1jvE6xb

PHOTOS: http://wordsandpictures.oxfam.org.uk/?c=15506&k=31b0fddbb3

QUOTES BY THE DIRECTOR & THE ACTORS

Director David Yates, best known for directing the final four films in the Harry Potter series, said: “I agreed to direct the film because the Robin Hood Tax is a simple yet brilliant idea. We need to learn the lessons of the financial crisis and ensure that banks and hedge funds work in the interests of society not the other way around.”

Andrew Lincoln, star of TV’s the Walking Dead, said: “After six years of shaky recovery and decreasing living standards, it is time for our leaders to be ambitious and act in the interest of the people and the planet.

“It is rare that a tax could garner such incredible support from people across Europe, but the Robin Hood Tax is an obviously fair way to ensure that those responsible for the economic crisis pay to clear up the mess it caused.”

Clémence Poesy, of Harry Potter and In Bruges fame, said: “If France and the other ten countries seriously considering going ahead with the tax decide to do so, up to €37bn could be raised each year. Spending this money on the fight against poverty, including the worldwide AIDS pandemic, and climate change is the right thing to do.”

Bill Nighy, star of Love Actually and Pirates of the Caribbean, said: “Four years after the launch of the Robin Hood Tax campaign, this tiny tax that could do so much good is on the verge of becoming a reality. France, Germany and nine other European countries are about to introduce it. It would be deeply regrettable if the rest of the world were caught on the wrong side of history.”

“Introducing the tax alone will not be enough, the billions it will raise need to be invested in tackling poverty at home and abroad and fighting climate change.”

Javier Cámara, star of a Bad Education and I’m So Excited, said: “With up to eight million Spaniards expected to fall into poverty by 2025, the Robin Hood tax presents an opportunity to alleviate the worst suffering of those not just in Europe, but around the world as well. ”

Heike Makatsch, who starred alongside Nighy in Love Actually, said: “European leaders have spent long-enough talking about the Robin Hood Tax. It is now time to get serious, push aside the discredited arguments against the tax from the financial lobby and implement a fair tax which could help millions of people across Europe and in the developing world.”

Institute for Policy Studies contact: Sarah Anderson, 202/787-5227, [email protected]

European CONTACT: Angela Corbalan on + 32 (0) 473 56 22 60 or [email protected]