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Nurses Call for Tax on Wall Street Trades, Not Cuts in Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid

Press Release Press Release, 7/7/11

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Media Advisory
July 7, 2011

Urge National Protests
Nurses Won’t Endorse Candidates who Cut Social Security

The nation’s leading nurses’ organization, National Nurses United, today called on the Obama administration and Congress to oppose cuts in Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, and instead increase national revenues with a tax on major Wall Street speculative activity.

NNU also urged national action, including swamping Congress with calls, to block cuts they say would endanger lives for those who count on these vital programs, especially in an economy that has not recovered for millions of Americans.

Data continues to pour in about how far the U.S. is already falling on healthcare barometers, indicators that could become far worse under the cuts now being discussed in Washington, the nurses say. (see examples below)

Earlier this year, the NNU national board voted to withhold election endorsements for any federal candidate who votes or acts to cut Social Security. NNU has some 170,000 members across the U.S.

NNU members issued the call ahead of a debate being held Friday in Washington between supporters and opponents of a financial transaction tax similar to an FTT currently on the books in more than 15 countries, including Great Britain, and under active consideration by the European Union.

A bill to enact such a measure for the U.S., which had an FTT from 1914 to 1966, is expected to be re-introduced soon.   Proponents, including NNU, say hundreds of billions of dollars could be raised annually through even a modest tax rate on financial market trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives, credit default swaps, and similar financial transactions that could be used to help rebuild America.

The debate will be held Friday, July 8, at 11:30 a.m. at the Carnegie Institute, 1530 P St. NW.

Nurses warn that further cuts to vital basic programs, especially to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid could substantially accelerate a broad decline in health and living standards linked to the ongoing recession experienced on Main Streets across America.  

In June, NNU members, joined by labor and community activists, rallied in support of such a Wall Street tax on Wall Street in New York across from the Stock Exchange, and outside the U.S. headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC.

Deborah Burger, RN, co-president of National Nurses United:   “America’s nurses see and feel broad declines in health and living standards for their patients, and their own families that are directly tied to the collapse in jobs, housing, healthcare, and other basics of what used to be called the American dream,” says NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN. “Nurses are calling for a change in priorities because they have seen enough, and want to stop the bleeding now.”

NNU Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro: “America has the wealth to end the despair and deprivation.  To reclaim this nation, we have to start by making Wall Street pay to undo the damage that has caused immeasurable suffering while the high rollers on Wall Street, who created this crisis, are rewarded with bailouts, bonuses, tax cuts, and regulatory rollbacks.”

More background about the nurses’ campaign is available at www.mainstreetcontract.org.

  • A University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in mid-June disclosed that life expectancies, relative to other developed nations, fell in more than 80 percent of U.S. counties from 2000 to 2007.  In 40 percent of U.S. counties, life expectancy for women fell five years behind countries that fared better. In five Mississippi counties, women’s average life spans trailed such poorer nations as Honduras, El Salvador, and Peru.
  • A study just released today by the National Bureau of Economic Research illustrated the consequences of cuts to Medicaid: “When poor people are given medical insurance, they not only find regular doctors and see doctors more often but they also feel better, are less depressed and are better able to maintain financial stability,” the New York Times reported.
  • Between 2003 and 2007, the average maternal mortality rate – defined by deaths that occur within 42 days of childbirth – has risen to 13 deaths per 100,000 live births, approximately double the low of 6.6 deaths per 100,000 live births recorded in 1987. Today, the United States ranks 41st in the world for maternal mortality <http://abcnews.go.com/WN/changing-life-preventing-maternal-mortality/story?id=9914009> , one of the worst records among developed countries. (Guardian, UK, July 5, 2011)
  • The U.S. already ranks just 19th among 29 industrial nations in public expenditure on pensions, according to OECD data, a stat that could plummet further if Social Security is cut.
  • A UNICEF report last December found the U.S. ranks just 22nd in health wealth being for children and 23rd in material well being for children among developed nations.
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