News / USA

Nurses, Unions Propose Wall Street Tax


Bernard Shusman

National Nurses United, a 165,000 member union, is leading organized labor in the United States in a challenge to Wall Street, its practices, and what the nurses call Wall Street's sway over politicians.  The nurses want a new tax on almost all financial transactions to support U.S. health care.  History and practice, however, are not on their side.

The nurses came from across the United States to Wall Street to lead a national organized labor movement against what they consider the inequities of Wall Street traders and banks.  They are advocating a new fee on financial transactions that they say should be used for health care, jobs, national infrastructure and education.  

National Nurses United Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro says such a tax could raise $350 billion - money, she says, belongs to the people.

"This is a revolution to steal unfortunately, it is a revolution to steal all of our money and we are taking it back," said DeMoro.  "Americans are tired of paying taxes while Wall Street gets billions and billions and billions of dollars."

One of the nurses union co-directors, Deborah Burger, says it is time to share.

"Wall Street gets the message it is time for shared sacrifice.  They have not had any of that.  They have been making billions and trillions of profit and not given anything back to our communities," Burger said.

Why are the nurses taking the lead in this transaction tax proposal?  Diane Brady, senior editor of the magazine Bloomberg-Businessweek, has written about the nurses' movement.

"The reason the nurses are out there at the forefront is, number one, they have been very active since the whole health care debate has come up, but also a lot of other unions have been discredited," Brady explained.  "There is a nursing shortage, so they are in a position of strength.  They are not really vulnerable from a job perspective."

Brady says Sweden and Japan had to ditch such a tax after a few years.  She says the reality is that financial products more than any other products in the world are mobile, so if you add a tax in one jurisdiction all the trades will go somewhere else.  

New York University business and economics professor Joe Foudy says such a proposal has also come up in Congress during the past two years, but it is dead in the water.  

"A tax hike like this would only work if it were instituted at a global level," Foudy noted.  "If we tried to do it nationally, your biggest, greatest fear, not only would firms try to game the system, but even worse, they would try to move those transactions and with it some of those jobs abroad and so you would end up losing the tax revenues you do get from Wall Street, you would lose even more regulatory control because the same transactions would take place just in other countries with even weaker regulations."

Foudy adds there is a huge disconnect between the culture of Wall Street and the rest of the country.  The rest of the country looks at Wall Street as having helped to create the financial crisis in the United States, while people on Wall Street view this as, "It was someone who had my job four years ago and it is not my problem."  And he believes there will be rising popular anger as long as the disconnect is there.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs