The Augusta wing of a national nurses’ union rallied Thursday to ask U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss to back a tax on stock transactions that could raise money for projects that can provide jobs. Chambliss, however, said raising taxes now will only hurt the economy.
National Nurses United held the event at 5:30 p.m. at Augusta Common.
Calling it “our Main Street campaign,” the group wants Chambliss to back a 0.5 percent tax on stock transactions that in Britain raises $40 billion a year, said Irma Westmoreland, a staff nurse at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center and chairwoman of NNU/VA.
It is also part of an effort “to make Wall Street pay for the devastation it has caused on Main Street,” the group said in an e-mail.
“As nurses, we see a lot of the effects of things that are going on with the economy, like homelessness and joblessness,” Westmoreland said. “Also people who are under-insured or not insured at all, (who) can’t afford to buy their medicines and eat at the same time.”
Those transactions are charged only a small fee that is used to support the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, she said.
“Great Britain has this already, and hasn’t had a single problem with that,” Westmoreland said. “France and Germany are working on getting this same kind of tax for all of Europe. So this is not unheard of to help raise money, to put money back into our homeless shelters and to create jobs and to stabilize our economy. This is a really big opportunity.”
Chambliss said by e-mail that recently tightened banking and financial rules
are already making it difficult “to loan the capital needed to push our economy forward.”
“I remain concerned that further taxation on individuals and financial institutions will slow economic growth,” Chambliss stated. “I believe a plan for economic recovery will come through lowering the debt the American people and the federal government hold.”
Westmoreland said the group is already working with U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson on other projects and feels it has made “inroads” with him, so they are targeting Chambliss. She did praise Chambliss’ support for the VA in the past but said the rally is intended to send Congress a message.
“We want the public to contact these guys and tell them they want it because we’re their constituents,” Westmoreland said. “We’re their constituents from Augusta. They need to know what the Main Street Augusta people want, not just the big businesses.”