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Nurses urge Pelosi and others to back the Robin Hood tax

San Francisco Bay Guardian , 10/3/12

Nurses and other activists targetted Nancy Pelosi and other key members of Congress.

See Flickr photos from the Oct. 2 actions here >>

Activists nationwide are pressuring Congress to pass a bill they say would generate hundreds of billions of dollars and stimulate economic growth on Main Street, targeting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other key congressional votes with a series of protests today.

The Inclusive Prosperity Act, or H.R. 6411, would establish a 0.5 percent tax on the trading of stocks, 50 cents on every $100 of trades and lesser rates on bonds, derivatives and currencies.  It's being touted as the "Robin Hood tax" because it would generate an estimated $350 billion dollars annually that would go towards growing local economies, taking from the rich to help the poor.  

Supporters for the national campaign are knocking on the doors of their congressional representatives asking them to back the bill. Campaigners and members of National Nurses United today gathered at Pelosi's office to ask her for support, but she was nowhere to be found.  Roughly two dozen nurses and activists attempted to enter the building when security promptly stopped them, allowing only four members to enter to speak to a Pelosi representative in the lobby.

Inside, the four activists - including Deborah Burger, a registered nurse from Santa Rosa - were told that although the bill fits with her values, Pelosi is currently focused on the November election.

"We were told that after the election she might use her influence to back the legislation," says Burger.  "We do plan to go to Washington to push this bill and we're going to do it with or without Nancy Pelosi."  

Eighteen days after the stock market crashed in 2008 – four years ago today – Congress approved the Troubled Relief Asset Program, or T.A.R.P., that saved the "too-big-to-fail" banks from financial collapse.  Now, the national unemployment rate lingers above 8 percent.  HR 6411, introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, is being promoted as a way to enforce accountability on the part of major Wall Street banking institutions.

"The destruction they've done to this country is enormous," says Charles Idelson, communications director for the California Nurses Association. "They pay no tax when trading and all we're asking for is Wall Street to pay us back and help local economies."

When asked why nurses are interested in the bill, Scott Hornback, a nurse at UCSF, said people in his profession spend their days caring for those hit hardest by the recession: "We care about the health of the American worker and the people who make up this economy."  

Supporters say the revenue generated from HR 6411 would also help strengthen Medicare and Medicaid, put more resources into the infrastructure and education, and help tackle climate change.   

The obvious question is whether or not such a tax would encourage financial institutions to move their transactions offshore.  Idelson rejected this possibility, saying, "When you have something totally computerized, like financial transactions, it's easy to monitor and track."

According to National Nurses United, more than 40 countries currently have some form of financial transaction tax in place.  Last week Germany and France urged the European Commission to draft FTT proposals for nine nations in the EU.

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