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Outside the district office of Rep. Charles Rangel, Robin Hood Tax Campaigners from National Nurses United (NNU) and Health GAP found an engaged audience today.  These residents of New York’s Harlem are wondering when the recovery will arrive.  

Their neighborhoods are a mix of shuttered brownstones and half-empty condos, a sign of the realty speculation that somehow, someway never brought decent, affordable housing to Manhattan’s northern-most community.  

It was one of four national Robin Hood actions today repeating the call for a different approach to addressing the economy, with a renewed call for a Robin Hood tax on Wall Street speculation to increase revenues, not more punishing austerity cuts, especially to the vital programs Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

NYC: Anti-Austerity 2
Robin Hood activists at New York office of Rep. Charles Rangel

The spirit of speculation lives on in the trading floors and conference rooms of Wall Street.  Financialization, as opposed to a productive economy, is the model being sold, even after the collapse of financial markets in 2008.  

The bailout of these “too-big-to-fail” financial institutions ran up a bill in the trillions, much of it paid from federal tax coffers.   That money needs to be returned to places like Harlem—for jobs, rebuilding, decent retirement, good schools and clean environment.  

That is what the Robin Hood Tax is all about.  It is embodied in Rep. Keith Ellison’s Inclusive Prosperity Act, H.R. 6411, and the RHT Campaign made visits to Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco, in addition to Rangel’s offices, to get pledges of support.  

“The Robin Hood Tax would provide us with the resources we need to end the AIDS pandemic and fight back against climate change,” said Michael Tikili of Health GAP.  “With disasters like Hurricane Sandy looming, we can no longer look to spending cuts to fix our financial crisis. We need a Robin Hood Tax to give us the revenue we need to end AIDS and fight climate change now.”
Like their last visit to Mr. Rangel, RNs and Health GAP members sought an audience inside the congressman’s office.  No go.   “So we bargained with them to send someone down,” explained Jonathan Weitz of NNU.  

NYC: Anti-Austerity 3
Special Assistant Isiah Horton spoke for 20 minutes, in the end explaining Mr. Rangel had spoken with Rep. Ellison and that he still had concerns on how the bill would supposedly affect pensions.  

“The RNs immediately fired back that the law would have a minimal or no effect, would raise up to $350 billion a year for healthcare, education and jobs.”   The Ellison bill in fact for the most part taxes the brokers who make the trade and exempts households with incomes below $75,000 per year.

Across the coast, in Los Angeles, some four dozen nurses and activists rallied outside the district office of Rep. Xavier Becerra.

LA: Anti-Austerity 2
Some were invited in to meet with Liz Saldivar, district director, who continued to hedge on the bill and said he’d like to see more sponsors of the bill. It already has 18 co-sponsors, a good number for a bill that was only introduced a few weeks ago.

LA: Anti-Austerity 3
Nurses, activists outside Los Angeles office of Rep. Xavier Becerra.

Dozens more gathered outside the San Francisco district office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who earlier today announced plans to run for another term as House Minority Leader.

SF: Anti-Austerity - 3
Outside San Francisco office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi’s district director Dan Bernal dismissively told the RNs they had a “90 seconds” to talk to him.

SF: Anti-Austerity - 4
Sherri Stoddard, RN (left) told him they were calling on Pelosi to be a leader and support the bill.

The Robin Hood Tax Campaign was also saying at the actions that cuts to essential services – Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the food stamp program – must not be carried out.  

“This country has vast wealth but poor priorities,” said Jean Ross, RN and co-president of National Nurses United, one the founding organizations of the Robin Hood Tax Campaign.  “Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Food Stamp program are the economic bedrock of vast numbers of American families.   To reduce these in any way is to do serious harm and lead to more poverty.   We, as nurses, shudder at the thought of more harm to Americans.  Don’t do it.”

In a meeting with leaders of labor and liberal advocacy groups Tuesday, the President pledged he was not going to “budge” on opposing extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, and "seemed to agree that Social Security" should not be part of any grand bargain because it "didn't add to the deficit."

Yet, the President’s press secretary afterwards told reporters that the President “has put forward a very specific plan that will be what he brings to the table when he sits down with Congressional leaders.” That $4 trillion, 10-year plan includes the commitment to $1.1 trillion in spending cuts that agreed to during the debt ceiling negotiations last year as well as additional spending cuts that include $340 billion in savings from Medicare and Medicaid, the New York Times reported.

Further, in his press conference today, President Obama twice cited his support for “entitlement changes” as part of a fiscal cliff deal.

Robin Hood and company have a different message:

Austerity has no place in America.  It will have the same affects these draconian cuts have had in Europe:  demise, poverty and no growth.

Don’t the Europeans know it.  Millions hit the streets today to protest spending cuts they say have made the economic crisis worse.  General strikes were held in Portugal, Spain, Greece and Italty, with major strikes in France and Belgium and labor actions in cities across the continent.  Flights were cancelled, car factories and ports were at a standstill and trains barely ran in Spain and Portugal where unions held their first ever coordinated general strike.

Originally posted to National Nurses Movement on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:33 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    National Nurses United, (AFL-CIO): the new RN "super-union" representing 150,000 nurses from all 50 states!

    by National Nurses Movement on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:33:30 PM PST

  •  Fantastic, thank you (7+ / 0-)

    "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

    by smiley7 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:35:54 PM PST

  •  What is this about Pelosi's district director? (4+ / 0-)

    That response does not sound satisfactory.

  •  Transaction tax is popular in Europe, too (8+ / 0-)

    Eleven euro zone countries agreed to press ahead with a disputed tax on financial transactions aimed at making traders share the cost of fixing a crisis that has rocked the single currency area.

    The initiative, pushed hard by Germany and France but strongly opposed by Britain, Sweden and other proponents of free markets, gained critical mass at a European Union finance ministers' meeting in Luxembourg, when more than the required nine states agreed to use a treaty provision to launch the tax.

    Commonly known as a "Tobin tax" after Nobel-prize winning U.S. economist James Tobin proposed one in 1972 as a way of reducing financial market volatility, it has become a political symbol of a widespread desire to make banks, hedge funds and high-frequency traders pay towards a wrenching debt clean-up.

    "This is a small step for 11 countries but a giant leap for Europe," Austrian Deputy Finance Minister Andreas Schieder said. "The way is now clear for a just contribution from the banking and financial sector for financing the burdens of the crisis."http://www.reuters.com/....

    "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

    by smiley7 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:44:20 PM PST

  •  Love the hats! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smiley7, blueoasis, elwior, 4Freedom, RN4MERCY

    I think the Robin Hood meme has promise!

    •  sfinx - I favor a transaction tax (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sebastianguy99, coffeetalk

      as long as the amount of the tax is thoughtfully applied. As an example you can't have a 1% tax when someone buys a short term note that pays 1% interest. However, the entire "Robin Hood" theme makes turning this into public policy much harder and should be dropped immediately. Just promote a transaction tax for Wall St trading, there is no need to poke the people we need to bring this to a reality. We need some Republicans on our side to make this happen. You will never bring any of the GOP on board with the Robin Hood theme.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:56:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Will never bring them along anyway (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RN4MERCY, 4Freedom, Ozzie

        The Robin Hood theme is well established in the drive for an FTT in Europe and Britain.  We were inititially a little bit reluctant about it, I think, but if we wanted to be part of the global campaign it was necessary and now that we got used to it, we love it.  And no modern Republican is going to get on board with this no matter how we frame it, so trying to make it appeal to them is a waste of time.

        "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verite et de la dire" Jean Jaures

        by Chico David RN on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:15:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  David - this can't happen without some (0+ / 0-)

          bipartisan support. We even will need some help with the Dems. The 113th Congress will be looking at comprehensive tax reform and a transaction tax should be on of the items seriously discussed, particularly if the EU does implement one. The Robin Hood theme makes it impossible for the GOP to even consider and hurts us with moderate Dems as well. It buys us nothing and costs us a lot. It should be dropped.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 07:06:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

        It seems easy to play into their "takers vs. makers" nonsense. Just promote the tax straight-up as a Wall Street contribution to the nation's fiscal situation. That is a fight we can win.

        It might be easier to do this with election reform and public financing of federal elections.

        "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

        by sebastianguy99 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:16:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  true of everything good... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RN4MERCY, 4Freedom
          It might be easier to do this with election reform and public financing of federal elections.

          "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verite et de la dire" Jean Jaures

          by Chico David RN on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:17:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Some good posts and thinking on this. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4Freedom

      I presume it really depend upon the target audience of the Robinhood campaign. Recall that during the Great Depression bank robbers were popular heros. So if the movement objective is to stirr up the common person, it may work.
      Republicans are a different matter. One quite, behind doors argument with Republicans could be to sell the transaction tax as a Wall Street fee, thus avoiding their precious pledge.

      "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

      by smiley7 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:22:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I just can't see them (0+ / 0-)

        pissing off their corporate and financial overlords, especially when they're salivating at the chance to decimate ss and the Meds with "bi-partisan" support for the Catfood Commission report.

  •  Austerity kills. This is a social emergency! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smiley7, 4Freedom

    Europe is uniting to protest cuts and job losses. We need to do the same. Let's side with humanity and reject austerity. The banksters on Wall Street need to pay their share to heal our economy. Too bad the FTT is a 'non-starter' with so many politicians; we're going to have to push them to do the right thing or push them out of office with our votes. This time we mean it. People are hurting!

  •  Go Nurses -- Heal America! Tax Wall Street (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, RN4MERCY, Ozzie

    Bravo.  Great actions.  Thank you all for the work you do.  

    DonnaSiCKO Tell your story at guaranteedhealthcare.org

    by donnasicko on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 07:36:07 PM PST

    •  Patients are the wind beneath our "wings". (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ozzie

      Seriously, we're working class people who try to help one another. We learn so much from our patients and we've seen the devastation that's wreaked havoc on our economy and our health.

      The Nurses Care Plan for America? The Robin Hood Tax! It's our duty to bring hope and seek a cure for the jobs, education, housing and retirement crisis. Human beings need certain things to live.  And everyone deserves access to health care as a human right!

      We can't cut our way out of this austerity crisis. We need an infusion of revenue to preserve vital social services and assure that a quality public education and jobs that pay living wages are available so that everyone has a shot at achieving the American dream. A tiny tax on wall street  bankers and brokers seems fair enough; after all, they got bailed out at our expense. Now it's time they pay a fair share of taxes to help restore the economy they've ruined.

      When we observe something that's wrong, we have a duty to intervene and change those circumstances. We can't ignore our duty or refuse to accept it.

  •  If we can tax tobacco why not Wall Street (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ozzie, RN4MERCY

    First.  This was an American idea by a noted economist from the 70's who just happened to win a Nobel Prize in the process,.  As embodied in the Elison bill it would tax transactions at a modest 1% falling on the brokers and hedge funders who got a huge bailout at the beginning of the Obama/Biden presidency.
    Our president has asked for new ideas on solving our budget/deficit woes.  This would cause some needed reflection by the high stakes, irresponsibility of gambling on Wall street and the lack of oversight prevalent in our financial institutions.  It would raise revenue and could shore up needed programs for the sick, the elderly and fund disaster relief that will become more prevalent in the age of global climate change that just devastated the New Jersey and New York coast line.

    If we impose taxes on  tobacco products that have cost our health care system dearly and killed million,  then taxing Wall Street seems a no brainer.  The Hedge funders, like Bain, manipulated and cost us everything in the depression of 09.  They walked away with billions in assets and paid little in compensation for the destruction caused by their deceit.  Since this election was about math, then holding Wall street stock manipulators through a Robin Tax should edge us back to reality and hold these people accountable.

    Betting on stock manipulation and hedge funding is a habit we can no longer afford in these poor economic times.  It caused a sickened economy that is slowly recovering.  Romney and his Bain associates are emblematic of the destructive force of this criminal behavior on Wall Street. It should be part of any reform package.  

    The Robin Hood meme is appropriate and beloved because it goes to the heart of what is wrong with our economic system.  Bain and the recklessness of Wall Street sickened millions across the nation. It robbed us of our homes, our retirement, our savings, our jobs and yes, our investments in the future.    Like Robin Hood and his merry men and women, we need to take back what was rightly ours from like the evil King John, who usurped and misused his power from the rightful King.

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