From Maine to California, nurses, joined by others angry over the ongoing economic crisis, will call on members of Congress in their local district offices on Thursday to support a tax on Wall Street financial speculation to pay to, in their words, “heal the nation.”
The nurses — members of the National Nurses United (NNU) labor union — will visit the home offices of Republicans and Democrats, with a common message: Everyday Americans are hurting, and they need jobs, healthcare, housing, quality education, nutrition, and a secure retirement, not more cuts, as has been the recent obsession of Congress.
Among the lawmakers nurses want to meet with are members of the leadership of Capitol Hill, including House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
The meetings with lawmakers will be joined with other events, from soup kitchens to help feed the hungry and homeless, to community speak outs to street theater are planned in major urban centers like Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Orlando, to smaller cities and towns, such as Corpus Christi, Texas; Marquette, Mich.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Dayton, Ohio; and Worcester, Mass.
The nurses will call on Congress members to sign a pledge to “support a Wall Street transaction tax that will raise sufficient revenue to make Wall Street pay for the devastation it has caused on Main Street.” The visits follow a letter sent by certified mail to all 535 members of the House and Senate last week asking them to back the pledge and help “make the promise of the American dream…a reality,” according to a statement from the union.
A tax on Wall Street trading of stocks, bonds, derivatives, currencies, credit default swaps, and futures –- the speculative activity linked to the 2008 financial meltdown and resulting recession –- could raise hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for the programs that “are desperately needed to reduce the pain and suffering felt by so many families who feel abandoned in communities across this nation,” says NNU Co-President Deborah Burger.
NNU, which says it is the nation’s largest union and professional association of nurses, has sponsored other protests in recent months, including in Washington, outside the headquarters of the powerful pro-business U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and in New York City, across from the Stock Exchange, to advance its campaign.
“America’s nurses see every day the broad declines in health and living standards that are a direct result of patients and families struggling with lack of jobs, un-payable medical bills, hunger, and homelessness. We know where to find the resources to bring them hope and real solutions,” says NNU Co-president Karen Higgins.
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.