Taxing Wall Street to bail out Main Street

Members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United and their backers rallied September 1, at the congressional offices of Democrats and Republicans in 21 states across America for a 0.5 percent federal tax on big financial transactions to raise $350 billion annually to fund jobs, health care and schools. The tax would apply to stocks, securities, debt purchases, options, credit swaps, foreign currency bets and derivatives only, according to the CNA/NNU.

“Wall Street has gotten bailed out, and a financial transaction tax would benefit working people losing their jobs and health insurance,” said Shirley Toy, 52, is a registered nurse at UC Davis Medical Center, CNA/NNU member, mother and Midtown resident.

Toy joined protestors outside the Gold River office of Rep. Dan Lungren, the Republican representing the 3rd Congressional District which stretches from Vacaville to the foothills.

Elizabeth Pataki, 72, is a retired registered nurse who worked at Mercy General Hospital, a CNA/NNU member and mother.

“Nurses are seeing widespread declines in their patients’ living standards,” she said. “We ask Dan Lungren is he on the side of Wall Street or Main Street.”

The NNU, citing data from the Center for Responsive Politics, said that financial, insurance and real-estate firms donated a total of $897,792 to Rep. Lungren since 1989.

Toy, Pataki and 60 CNA/NNU members and supporters first gathered outside Lungren’s second-floor office to speak out for the financial tax. Later, they entered his office waiting area to speak with him. He was not there, according to Marilyn Erbs, his district director.

Erbs and the protesters, including Bill Camp, executive director of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, had a lively back-and-forth over where to speak and with how many present. Eventually, the demonstrators left Lungren’s office to end their rally outside.

Their next stop to agitate for a financial transaction tax was the office of Republican Congressman Tom McClintock—whose 4th Congressional District office is in Granite Bay—to ask him to back that proposal.

The United States had a financial transaction tax from 1914 to 1966, according to the CNA/NNU, and that such a tax is now in effect in 15 nations including the United Kingdom.

The U.S. finance industry gained 32 percent of corporate profits between 2008-2010 compared to less than 10 percent of such profits during the 1960s, according to economist Dean Baker, citing U.S. Department of Commerce figures.