"Serious as a Heart Attack": RoseAnn DeMoro Explains How to Raise $350 Billion from Financial Transaction Tax
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ROSEANN DEMORO: Thank you, Bill. It's so nice to be here.
BILL MOYERS: When you went to your membership and said, "I want us to get involved in taking on Wall Street. I want us to fight for the financial transaction tax," did they scratch their head and say, "What the devil is that?"
ROSEANN DEMORO: You know what, Bill? It was the most fascinating thing. They got that in a heartbeat. The people who have billions of dollars, who could make a million dollars an hour, which is, you know, Wall Street, need to give a little bit back. It's very American. It's happened before. It's not anything novel. And the nurses know that they pay tax. So when we explained that they complete got it. We did a lot of education around it. And then we fanned out into the capital.
We had a thousand nurses in Washington, D.C. last year. And we introduced the financial transaction tax. You know, there's some sophisticated things about the financial transaction tax, but frankly, all you need to know is that people in this economy are hurting. They're losing their homes. They have no health care. They've lost their jobs. Something's wrong and everyone knows it. And when you look around and you see the billions of dollars and the billionaires and the excessive wealth that's been taken out of the economy, everyone knows that.
They don't necessarily know how to speak about derivatives or stocks or all of that. But they know that those people who have those things have the money. So when we went to the capitol, two stories I'll relate very quickly.
One of the young nurses goes into one of the legislator's offices and says, you know, "We want the financial transaction tax." And this male legislator says, "Well, you nurses know a lot about financial transaction," like, you know, "What would a nurse know? Or what would a woman know?" "You nurses need to lower your expectations." And she said, "Would you like me to say that to you when I'm prepping you for surgery?" And it says the story right there, right, though, because ultimately we're talking about the life and death of people. That's what the nurses see. They see life and death. And so it's that same body that's presenting themselves to the nurse on that operating table. Those nurses see those patients in droves every single day. And they see people without hope. And they see fundamental despair. Another nurse told one of the legislators, "I don't know a lot about the financial transaction tax, but I know I pay tax on everything I buy as a working person and they should too." And that's it. They have been able to essentially, the people in the financial industry have been able to ultimately take so much money out of the economy and not even have to pay a minimum sales tax on that money. Not even a minimum.
BILL MOYERS: So how did these two congressmen respond?
ROSEANN DEMORO: Very cynically, very cynically.
BILL MOYERS: Cynically?
ROSEANN DEMORO: Yeah, what happened was that then the nurses came back together, told the stories. And of course, that enraged everyone, because that's the same experience they had in all the offices, dismissive. Our legislators have found that they can be dismissive, because labor doesn't have anywhere to go. So we decided to take the campaign to establish a Main Street Campaign to take it back to the communities and talk to real people who are losing their homes, jobs, and health care.