From staff reports
EAST STROUDSBURG - Promising to protect middle-income and working-class families by fighting for a Wall Street Sales Tax to solve the nation's fiscal woes and breathe some badly-needed life into the country's ailing economy, Adam Rodriguez of Monroe County has formally declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District.
Rodriguez, 50, is one of two Democrats challenging U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, a two-term Republican lawmaker from Cogan Station. Businessman Scott Brion, the founder of Tioga Resources, a venture capital and private equity firm that invests in undeveloped oil and gas assets in the Marcellus Shale region, announced his candidacy last Thursday.
Marino defeated two-term Democratic incumbent Chris Carney by 10 percentage points in 2010. He was reelected by a wider margin in 2012.
A graphic designer and artist in the apparel industry, Rodriguez said that he plans to make a one percent tax on Wall Street transactions the centerpiece of his campaign.
In addition to curbing reckless financial speculation, a one percent tax on financial transactions - shared equally between the federal government and the states - would be "an important first step in countering the GOP's mean-spirited politics of austerity while strengthening the nation's social safety net," he said.
"The revenue generated from a relatively minuscule tax on qualified financial transactions would go a long way in shoring up Social Security and Medicare while protecting our most vulnerable citizens who are dependent on programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, LIHEAP and emergency extended unemployment benefits," said Rodriguez, who describes himself as an "FDR New Deal Democrat."
Declaring that he is "running to win," the Monroe County Democrat pointed out that working families in Pennsylvania pay a sales tax of at least six percent on virtually every purchase they make, yet financial speculators - "the same parasitical Wall Street casinos that U.S. taxpayers generously bailed out and continue to heavily subsidize in the form of 'Quantitative Easing' after they virtually destroyed our economy in 2008" - pay absolutely no tax on quadrillions of dollars per year on trades of derivatives, futures, stocks, bonds and other securities on U.S. exchanges.
"Make them pay," he said.
Aimed primarily at large institutional investors, high-frequency traders and other financial speculators, Rodriguez said that a Wall Street Sales Tax would exempt smaller individual investors, those trading a million dollars or less annually. "The typical 401(k) or IRA wouldn't be subject to the tax," he said.
Noting that Rep. Marino recently received a dismal 7 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters, Rodriguez said that his campaign will also focus on the environment. Unlike the incumbent, Rodriguez supports a moratorium on hydraulic fracking.
Rodriguez, who supports a $15 minimum wage, also believes that the Federal Reserve should be mandated by Congress to issue interest-free "Century Bonds" to help state and local governments finance the rebuilding of the nation's infrastructure while putting millions of Americans back to work at decent, union-scale wages.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the nation's deteriorating infrastructure will require a $3.6 trillion public investment between now and year 2020, said Rodriguez. According to the ASCE, Pennsylvania alone will need more than $29 billion to maintain and improve its drinking water and wastewater systems over the next 20 years. Moreover, the state currently has 5,540 structurally deficient bridges and a majority of its major roads are considered of poor or mediocre quality, costing Pennsylvania motorists $341 annually in unnecessary vehicle maintenance and repairs.
"This is the jobs program everybody has been waiting for," said Rodriguez. "The Federal Reserve can provide the funding."
An ex-Teamster and former member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Local 608 in New York City, Rodriguez lives with his wife Beth and four of their five children in Middle Smithfield Township. More information about the candidate can be found on his website, www.adamforpa.com.
The 10th Congressional District encompasses Bradford, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Pike, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union and Wayne counties, and parts of Lackawanna, Monroe, Northumberland, Perry and Tioga counties.