David Dodd 1:48 a.m., May 18
Labor groups representing nurses, postal workers, machinists, and others converged on Representative Darrell Issa’s Vista office this morning.
The crowd, which approached 200 in number, was assembled by National Nurses United. The group is mobilizing 10,000 nurses and supporters today to target 61 legislators in 21 states with a plea to reinstate the financial transaction tax. “Through such a tax, we will make Wall Street pay for the damage it has caused to Main Street,” declares a flyer distributed at the event and promoting a “Main Street Contract for the American People.”
A financial transaction tax, or a tax on the trading of stocks and bonds, is not a new idea. The U.S. had such a tax in place from 1914 to 1966, and some 15 other countries currently impose a similar levy. This includes the U.K., whose London Stock Exchange is the world’s fourth largest.
This is also not the first time revival of the tax has been discussed, National Nurses United claims. Following the Wall Street crash of 1987, such prominent politicians as Senate Majority leader Bob Dole and then Vice President George H.W. Bush were in favor of reinstatement.
The group touts multiple populist benefits of its plan, including the potential to raise up to $350 billion that could be used for various programs. One use suggested by Nurses United is extension of Medicare benefits to all Americans, other suggestions include investment in retirement security and public education.
The major targets of the tax are the large banks whose speculation last decade was seen as a driver of the economic crash – Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley conduct nearly 25 percent of the total trade volume globally, the group claims. The taxes would also be difficult to avoid, as a buyer of securities would be unable to assume title without paying the tax due. The group stresses that the cost to ordinary Americans would be negligible, as most people do not frequently execute stock trades.
In addition to the morning rally outside Issa’s office (which began with the picketing of a nearby freeway overpass), National Nurses United is also planning a “soup kitchen and speak out” directed at Representative Bob Filner from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. this evening at 4625 Fairmount Avenue in San Diego.
Deborah Burger, RN and co-president of National Nurses United, says the two Congressmen’s districts provide a “disturbing window into the pain and suffering faced by families throughout this nation.”
Other workers’ groups were also present at the rally, most notably the National Association of Letter Carriers and the American Postal Workers Union. They were protesting Issa’s introduction of HR 2309 which would eliminate Saturday mail service and, according to postal workers, cause the elimination of up to 50,000 jobs.
The American Postal Workers Union claims that the postal service is not in crisis, that its appearance of debt is being artificially inflated by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 that required USPS to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of retirement benefits in a 10 year span. They state that if they were not constrained by this requirement unique to the postal service, that the service would be operating at a profit, even in the face of recession and reduced reliance on traditional mail.
The postal groups, with the support of nurses and others, are asking Issa to co-sponsor HR 1351, a bill that they say will remove the irregular retirement funding requirement, thus restoring profitability to the system without any further post office closures, service reductions, or postage rate increases.