Nurses tell Congress, make Wall Street pay

About 10,000 nurses and community supporters took part in actions in 21 states urging members of Congress to help heal America by taxing Wall Street. The actions were organized by National Nurses United, which represents 170,000 nurses. Nurses asked Senators and Representatives to support a tax on speculative financial transactions like the ones that in 2008 nearly ruined the economy, leaving millions of American workers without jobs, health care, and hope for the future.

“It’s time for Wall Street financiers, who created this crisis and continue to hold much of the nation’s wealth, to start contributing to rebuilding this country, and for the American people to reclaim our future,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, NNU executive director.

The nurses told the 61 members of Congress who they visited that a small tax on trades of stocks and bonds, credit default swaps, derivatives, future options, and other exotic and risky speculative activity could generate billions of dollars in revenue that could be used to invest in America and put people back to work.

In addition nurses helped out at soup kitchens to feed the hungry and homeless and held community speakouts that allowed people to tell their stories about how the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent recession has affected them.

During their office visits and street actions, the nurses said that after Wall Street caused the crash in 2008 it was rewarded with bailouts totalling $2.4 trillion. If that money had been spent on public investments like repairing the nation’s infrastructure, building new schools, and thousands of other public projects that enhance people’s quality of life, it would have funded 63 million jobs at the national median income level of $39,000 a year.

“Instead we have over 25 million people who are unemployed or underemployed, and in the past decade U.S. based corporations added 2.4 million jobs in foreign countries while divesting in America, cutting 2.9 million jobs in the US,” DeMoro said.”

Congress’ generosity toward Wall Street can be partly explained by Wall Street’s generosity toward Congress. One of the representatives visited by the nurses was Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republican’s point man on the budget. Ryan, according to the nurses has been a champion of Wall Street over the years and during the last 12 years, he received $2.4 million in campaign contributions from Wall Street banks.

Unfortunately, Ryan’s constituents have not benefitted much from his staunch support for Wall Street. In the district that he represents, 69,241 people do not have health insurance, 22,884 are dependent on food stamps, and 20,394 children and 7,939 seniors live in poverty.

In Colorado, the nurses visited Sen. Michael Bennett, a Democrat who collected $2.4 million from Wall Street, and like Rep. Ryan many of Sen. Bennett’s constituents continue to bear the brunt of the fallout from Wall Street’s speculation fueled nosedive. Colorado is among the top ten states in the number of foreclosures, 184,689 of its children live in poverty, 116,941 people are dependent on food stamps, and 13,390 are homeless.

Outside of Rep. Eric Cantor’s office in Virginia, where nurses were met by a squadron of police blocking entrance to his office, NNU co-president Karen Higgins said that the actions today were part of the nurses’ ongoing campaign to heal America by taxing Wall Street. “America’s nurses every day see broad declines in health and living standards that are a direct result of patients and families struggling with lack of jobs, un-payable medical bills, hunger and homelessness,” Higgins said. “We know where to find the resources to bring them hope and real solutions.”

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