Nurses advocate transaction tax on Wall Street
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com September 1, 2011 6:20PM
Registered nurse Tina Boersma, who lives in Crown Point and works at the University of Chicago, (second from right) is joined by community members (from left) Wayne and Vicki Anderko of Schererville and Dave Whitaker of Wheatfield as they participate in a rally in front of Rep. Pete Visclosky's office in Merrillville, Ind. Thursday September 1, 2011. The rally was one of the rallies at 61 congressional offices nationwide to call for a "tax on Wall Street." The Anderko's son attended a rally in Kansas City and Whitaker has several family members in the healthcare industry. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 5, 2011 1:07PM
Nurses demonstrated at congressional offices across the country on Wednesday — including Rep. Pete Visclosky’s Merrillville office — to call for a tax on Wall Street.
The transaction tax would apply to every trade of stocks, bonds, credit default swaps and derivatives. The United States had such a tax from 1914 until 1966, and politicians have periodically touted reinstating such a tax.
Nurses and activists waved their signs that read “Tax Wall Street” to approving honks from passing traffic on Broadway.
University of Chicago Hospitals nurse Dawn Peckler said it’s time for Wall Street banks, who received $2.4 trillion in taxpayer bailouts, to start paying their fair share.
“Let’s bail out working-class Americans,” she said. “Banks and investment houses gamble with our pensions, but what are they going to do to help those in need? We can make Wall Street become involved in the building of America.”
Backers say such a tax could raise billions.
Calumet College working-class studies professor Ruth Needleman detailed her own struggle with losing half her pension when the stock market collapsed in September 2008. The situation forced her to go back to work for health insurance.
“They are buying and selling junk on the purpose of the common good,” Needleman said. “(In 2008) people lost their jobs, their savings and their homes. This is what speculation has always brought to our economy. Whoever heard of betting against the future of the United States?”
Valparaiso resident Terri Collins, who works as a nurse at the University of Chicago Hospitals, said she decided to speak out on the issue because the middle class has taken a hit over the past three years.
“I’ve seen it in my job,” Collins said. “Families come in and they’re worried about paying for care. It’s a national problem. We do need a budget where everyone should pay their fair share and be treated the same.”
Representatives from National Nurses United met with members of Visclosky’s staff. While the congressman hasn’t indicated whether he would support such a bill, he spoke out against corporate tax loopholes when he voted against the debt ceiling deal in July.
“But what makes our current tax code so abhorrent is not the fact that it is unsustainable, but the fact that it is disparately unequal,” Visclosky said in his Aug. 1 remarks. “At a time when our country faces its biggest financial crisis in decades, it is reprehensible that our tax code allows companies, including some of the most profitable in the nation, to exploit loopholes and credits in the tax code to eliminate their tax liabilities. All Americans and American companies should make a contribution to our shared society.”
Visclosky’s spokeswoman Alana Juteau said that staffers were happy to meet with the group, and they emphasized that the congressman voted against the bailout three times.
“Staff let the NNU know that Congressman Visclosky will follow the issue closely as it works its way through the legislative process, but will withhold his opinion on the matter until an exact legislative vehicle for the financial transaction tax is identified,” Juteau said in a statement.