The first editorial entered the Times into an intense debate over pros and cons of various plans to impose a tax on big banks. While most commentators had argued for either a bonus tax or a transaction fee, The New York Times wanted both:
The White House is talking about levying a tax or fee on large banks to recover the $120 billion it spent to bail out the financial system. That is a good place to start, but it shouldn't stop there. President Obama and Congress should also impose a windfall tax on the huge bonuses that bailed-out bankers plan to pay themselves over the next few weeks.Explains the Times, "a permanent tax or fee imposed on the nation's largest banks could reduce future risks by discouraging big banks from getting even bigger." Realizing, however, that this would take time to coordinate internationally, the editors suggest we "start filling the budgetary gap with a windfall tax on those big bankers' bonuses."
The second editorial treads some familiar ground, although this time swapping the order in which the taxes are mentioned, and putting a greater stress on the bonus tax this time. Otherwise, it's pretty similar:
For the sake of fairness, Congress should pass a one-off windfall tax on bonuses. After all, what profits the banks had in 2009 were largely underwritten by taxpayers ... And for the sake of long-term financial stability, Congress should also pass President Obama's proposed big bank fee.Is the Times worried readers didn't get the message the first time?