Saturday, August 15, 2009

Michael Cohen Floats Stock Tax in City Council Bid by Michael Lanza - Queens Chronicle

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Former Assemblyman Mike Cohen is hoping a big picture approach will put him over the top in his bid to fill the 29th Council District seat.

That’s why the Democratic contender is proposing a citywide issue at the center of his campaign. Cohen wants the city to reinstate a long forgotten tax on stock transactions to help fill looming holes in the city’s budget.

Cohen said reinstating the tax could add as much as $10 billion annually into state and city coffers.

“The tax is actually still being collected and being instantly rebated,” Cohen said. “So we know how much money is being collected.”

He deflected critics who claim the tax would spur an exodus by already ailing Wall Street firms.

“A million dollar trade under this proposal — the cost would be 50 bucks. In London, the cost would be $5,000. In Hong Kong, it would be $8,000. In Singapore, it would be $11,000,” he said. “This is as close to negligible as you can get.”

While Cohen is focusing much of his energy selling the stock tax issue — it doesn’t mean he’s not paying attention to local issues as well.

Cohen would fight to bring Doe Fund workers to help with sanitation services on busy streets including Metropolitan Avenue, Jamaica Avenue, Grand Avenue and Atlantic Avenue.“The sanitation services in these areas is just not up to snuff,” he said.

Cohen wants to add speed photo radar systems that would automatically ticket speeding drivers on dangerous streets like Queens Boulevard and Woodhaven Boulevard.

He would fight for communities to have a greater say in development issues, adding that many neighborhoods were unprepared for growth in the short term. He also would work to give parents the opportunity to send their kids to school locally and would push for subsidies to bring hospitals back to the area.

Cohen, whose resignation from the Assembly for a cozy six-figure job at insurance giant HIP opened the way for Andrew Hevesi to take the seat, continued to deny questions of foul play in the ongoing pension fund scandal. The move was cited in an investigation into disgraced former State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who allegedly set up the switch in exchange for pension fund favors.

Cohen said he was unaware of any ulterior motives in the arrangement, and had taken the job because a family health crisis was impeding his ability to serve.

The candidate has not been named as a suspect in the investigation.