Nurses Rally Support for Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street Transactions

Written by Maggie Rose Ortins. Posted in Business, Economy, Labor, News

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Published on June 20, 2012 with 6 Comments

A man who identified himself as Robin Hood expressed support for a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street transactions during a rally Tuesday outside JP Morgan Chase in downtown San Francisco. Photo by Rosie Linares.

By Maggie Ortins

June 20, 2012

Dressed in red scrubs and chanting “Wall street says cutback, we say fight back,” members of National Nurses United gathered Tuesday outside JP Morgan Chase in downtown San Francisco to rally support for a “Robin Hood Tax” that aims to tap Wall Street investment transactions to fund social services.

Wearing Robin Hood hats, protesters drew double-takes from passers-by as they demonstrated – some with children in tow.

The tax, commonly known as a financial transaction (or speculation) tax, would apply to trades in stocks, bonds, currencies and derivatives. The tax would generate 50 cents for every $100 traded.  According to a 2009 report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the transaction tax, which has not yet garnered political backing, could raise as much as $350 billion per year.

Sue Fendley, a rally organizer, said the tax could make up for the shortfall in national education and health care funding.

“We are very surprised at the push back against this legislation,” Fendley said. “Who is pushing back? Essentially it is the one percent.”

National Nurses United members dance in support of the investment transactions tax. Photo by Shane Menez.

Charles Idelson, director of communications for the California Nurses Association, blames misguided priorities in the political system.

“People have hospital bills they cannot pay, causing patients to self-ration care,” he said.

Bank officials did not return repeated calls for comment.

Travis Majers, an investment banker, declined to disclose the company he works for but said the nurses do not understand  where the money for the tax would come from.

“Whenever you raise taxes on a corporation, that will turn around and hurt the consumer in the end with banks raising fees,” Majers said. “I don’t see anyone getting mad at Apple for their profit margins. Banks are going to walk the fine line of profits. This is a matter of what is fair and right.”

Retired teacher Terry Bailley travelled from Stockton  to show his support for the tax. He said he is appalled at the lack of funding for education and healthcare.

“We’re dying stupid,” Bailley said. “The banks are more often than not getting tax breaks and often get tax money returned.”

Several countries benefit from taxes on financial transactions including the United Kingdom and China – without significant loss to business according to the International Monetary Fund website.

“Such taxes do not automatically drive out financial activity to an unacceptable extent,” the website says.

A concurrent effort to raise revenues from financial transactions is underway in the US.  A bill called the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act was introduced in November by US Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), but currently remains in committee, according to the Library of Congress.

The legislation aims to raise 3 cents for every $100 traded on most non-consumer financial transactions including stocks, bonds and other debts.

“True deficit reduction in this country must come from a balance of spending cuts and necessary revenue increases,” said Senator Harkin. “This trading tax would help raise necessary funds to invest in our infrastructure and the education of our children, among other priorities, and would do so without hurting job creation.  There is no question that Wall Street can easily bear this modest tax.”

Harkin’s proposed tax would take effect January 1, 2013.

National Nurses United members rally for the Robin Hood Tax outside JP Morgan Chase building in downtown San Francisco. Photo by Rosie Linares.

Maggie Rose Ortins

Maggie Rose Ortins is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. She is a student at San Francisco State University.

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  1. “Entitled to get the money back that we put into them”?  50% of the people in America pay ZERO income tax.  That is also theft on a massive scale.  Perhaps the rich don’t pay enough (tax rates for the wealthy are at historical lows), but they pay 70% of all entire Federal tax revenues.  So as long as progressive whine about entitlements and the 1%, if the rich pay a low % in taxes, perhaps the 50% who pay NOTHING would be willing to put up the same %.  That would provide additional revenues also. 

  2. We pay forward for our “entitlements,” that’s why we’re entitled to get the money back that we put into them, any change to that is theft on a massive scale.

    That said, the Democrats and Republicans alike use government to further enrich their 1% patrons.  There is no evidence that more resources for government run by these corrupt parties will translate into more services and stable health and retirement security for seniors.

    The Republicans might have been banging the drum on tax whining for three decades now, wanting to starve the beast.  But the Democrabs are right behind them in proving that what we give them they will use to further empower the 1% while screwing the 99%. 

    The progressive answer is to actively deny resources to this font of corruption so that it can no longer be used to empower the 1% and screw the 99%.  The hope is that once the host is weakened by starvation that the parasites will fall off and we can save the patient prior to death.  The alternative is being kept alive only as a source of enrichment for those keeping us alive for their enrichment.

    Those living under such virtual imprisonment will envy the dead.

  3. It’s always amusing when I hear the canard of “they’re starving education of funds.” 

    Here are the facts:

    is only up 8.5% since 1970, whereas employment is up 96.2%. In other words, the
    public school workforce has grown 11 times faster than enrollment over the past
    40 years.
    we went back to the staff-to-student ratio we had in 1970, we’d be saving… $210
    billion… annually.
    a per pupil basis, a K-12 education has gone from about $55,000 to about
    $150,000 in real, inflation-adjusted terms

  4. Looks like it was a well planned and organized event

  5. What planet does Richmondman live on? We’ve already had spending cuts. Cuts to schools, health care, law enforcement, local governments, furloughs to state workers, state parks closed, mental health care is gutted, but where is the revenue? Oh yeah, lets not ask the richest people in the country to kick in pennies on the dollar since they are creating so many jobs.

  6. “True deficit reduction in this country must come from a balance of spending cuts and necessary revenue increases,” said Senator Harkin  – What are the spending cuts that are proposed by Sen Harkin?  Ill bet they don’t come from “entitlements”.  More “free” services and open borders are the recipe for default, and for the USA to turn into another Greece.