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Nurses call on lawmakers to back a tax on financial transactions

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Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 08:46 PM
SEMINOLE -

Chanting, "Wall Street got bailed out, Main Street got sold out," some two dozen nurses marched on the district office of U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young on Thursday to encourage the Republican congressman to support a tax on financial transactions.

The march, organized by National Nurses United, was part of a coordinated statewide effort.

Nurses also marched on the district offices of four other Republicans, including those of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in Sarasota, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in Orlando.

The nurses want a tax on transactions involving stocks, bonds, currency, credit default swaps and derivatives.

And, they say, it largely would target financial brokers, or, in the words of Mike Fox, one of the activists who showed up at Young's office, "those who collapsed our economy."

Young was not at the district office. However, his chief of staff, Harry Glenn, was, and he invited the protestors into a conference room, where he let the nurses air their grievances, and responded to some of them.

What began as a march then turned into a free-wheeling litany of complaints and horror stories that touched on, among other things, the lack of jobs, the number of people without health insurance, and the reluctance of those in dire financial straits to seek medical help until they are at death's door.

The nurses bemoaned the state of affairs in Washington, D.C., where, they said, there is much talk about cutting programs that are most critical to people without raising taxes on those who most can afford those taxes.

"We're asking to tax those large corporations who have the money," said Mary Fentress, a 67-year-old retired nurse now living in Pinellas Park.

However, no specific bill has been filed, and the nurses didn't have a copy of one that would be.

What they did have were pledge cards on which those who signed vowed to support a tax that would "make Wall Street pay for the devastation it has caused on Main Street."

It was too vague, Glenn said after the meeting.

"He's not going to sign a pledge to something he doesn't understand," Glenn said of Young.

In addition, Young is generally opposed to tax increases, Glenn said.

And, when a transaction tax was contemplated some years ago, retirees objected to it because they thought it would affect them as they shifted their money in their various retirement accounts, Glenn said.


spthompson@tampatrib.com (727) 815-1074

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