Earlier this week, nurses belonging to the National Nurses Union (NNU) and other activist groups kicked off a national campaign for a financial transaction tax, also know as the Robin Hood tax, with a flurry of activity in 15 cities across the US. In San Diego, nurses and other activists combined their Robin Hood event with a town hall meeting that was the first stop of a 12 city Medicare for All bus tour, sponsored by the California Nurses Association, an affiliate of NNU, Physicians for a National Health Program, and Campaign for a Healthy California.
(Update: Agence France Presse reports that the leaders of Germany, France, Spain, and Italy agreed on June 22 to implement a financial transaction tax as part of a stimulus plan to jump start the European economy. “I am pleased that all four here have committed to a financial transactions tax,” Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said.)
In a recent op-ed column appearing in the Guardian, NNU Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro explained why the US needs a Robin Hood tax, a small tax on risky speculative financial transactions that nearly brought down our economy in 2008. According to DeMoro, such a tax could raise hundreds of billions of dollars for public investment in health care, public and higher education, and badly needed infrastructure projects. Such an invest would put millions of people back to work.
Nurses, according to DeMoro, have seen first hand how the financial crash has hurt working people. ”The health care crisis has been severely aggravated by the economic collapse,” DeMoro writes. “Nurses see the signs in dire human terms, every day. RNs recount how patients, even children, are appearing in large numbers with stress-related illnesses. A Robin Hood tax will inject critical revenue into our economy that can help people struggling with the loss of their jobs, homes, and those unpayable medical bills.”
Revenue generated by a Robin Hood tax could also be used to fund the expansion of Medicare and make it available to all. The Medicare for All bus tour hopes to show Californians that there is a better way to deal with the health care crisis than the present approach.
Expanding Medicare to all would ease some of the problems that nurses are seeing every day as they try to make a broken health care system work. “Whether the Court strikes down all or part of the law, or upholds it, our health care crisis will be far from over, and we will still need real reform,” said Zenei Cortez, co-president CNA. “Far too many Californians and Americans will continue to be uninsured, losing their employer-paid health insurance, facing bankruptcy due to medical bills, struggling to pay for health coverage while also enduring job loss or home foreclosure, skipping needed medical care because of cost, or battling with an insurer to authorize medical treatment or tests recommended by their doctor. We have a proven solution with a model that works wonderfully well for 40 million Americans already. It’s called Medicare. No one should have to wait until they turn 65 to be assured they will be able to receive the health care they need.”
Since leaving San Diego, the Medicare for All tour has made stops in Bakersfield, San Bernadino, and Santa Ana. The physicians and nurses participating in the tour conduct free basic health screenings followed by a town hall meeting where participants are urged to share their stories about the health care problems they face or have encountered.
The beginning of the Medicare for All tour coincided with the national actions for a Robin Hood tax. In Washington DC, members of NNU, Jobs with Justice, National People’s Action, the National Organization of Women, Occupy Our Homes, AIDS activists, and others gathered in the halls of Congress as Senators questioned JP Morgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon about the bank’s recent multi-billion losses on risky financial speculation.
Those outside the hearing donned red shirts and green Robin Hood masks and waited for Dimon to finish testifying, so they could ask their own questions. Dimon chose not to face them and left through a back door.
Robin Hood demonstrations or activities were held in New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Boston, Dayton, Miami, Atlanta, El Paso, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Portland, Oregon.
The campaign for a Robin Hood tax released this video featuring actor Mark Ruffalo, musician Tom Morello, and economist Jeffery Sachs, urging people to join the movement for a fair tax on financial speculation.