NURSES CALL FOR TAX ON WALL ST. TRANSACTIONS, URGE BROWN TO SIGN ON
By Colleen Quinn
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
BOSTON, MA, SEPT.1, 2011 – Arguing that big banks and investment firms should pay for “reckless” policies that sparked the nation’s economic downturn, the state’s largest union of nurses urged U.S. Sen. Scott Brown Thursday to support a tax on stock trades, debt purchases, credit swaps and other Wall Street transactions.
Members of the Massachusetts Nurses’ Association – joining counterparts in 21 other states – rallied in Boston and Worcester, in support of a 0.5 percent tax on all stock and securities trades, purchases of debt, options trading, credit swaps, foreign currency trades, and derivatives transactions. The proposed tax would target major banks and investment firms and could generate up to $350 billion in annual revenue, according to the association.
“We’re here because Wall Street got bailed out, and Main Street was left out,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, the president of the MNA, at the foot of Brown’s office. “Big banks, investment houses, and other financial giants who wrecked our economy and who gambled with our mortgages and pensions need to return some of that enormous wealth to Main Street. It’s time to take it back.”
The group likened the tax to sales taxes that consumers pay on most goods and services. The proposed tax would have a minimal impact on the average investor, the nurses association argued. Backers say they plan to lobby for legislation in Congress.
The nurses’ group said the tax would help create jobs, and allow the federal government to restore funding to social service programs that were cut in the wake of the recession.
“People are only talking about where to cut. People are not looking at where we can get more revenue,” Kelly-Williams said.
A Brown spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Brown’s office has not responded to the idea, according to Kelly-Williams. But business groups sharply rejected the plan. Brian Gilmore, a spokesman for Associated Industries of Massachusetts, called the proposal “totally unrealistic and inappropriate.”
“I am amazed. Their effort shows a clear lack of economic understanding,” Gilmore said. “Adding any taxes on financial transactions during this period of economic stress will not accomplish their goals of restoring social programs, and in fact have the opposite effect. The only way we are going to work ourselves out of this situation is to increase jobs.”
At the rally outside Brown’s office, nurses chanted “Heal America. Tax Wall Street.” Tony Antonelli, a labor representative for the nurses’ group, wore a Revolutionary-era town crier costume and read a proclamation.
“Bankers and Wall Street Scoundrels have left our economy in ruins,” he said. “The pensions and securities of our good citizens have been ravaged. We are plagued by income disparities, high unemployment and the breakdown of critical social programs.”
Along with pushing for the new tax, the nurses’ association plans to organize food drives and set up soup kitchens to “help those harmed by Wall Street’s greed and the continued failure of our politicians to respond to this crisis,” Kelly-Williams said.
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