The U.S. Treasury was today renamed “A Citigroup Subsidiary, Jack Lew, Inc. CEO,” as Robin Hood and a merry band of 2,000 hoisted a banner with the Treasury building as backdrop on the corner of 15th St. NW in Washington, D.C.
“Who does Secretary Lew work for?” asked Jennifer Flynn of Health GAP, one of the founding organizations of the Robin Hood Tax Campaign.
“The people,” answered all. RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, another founding RHT organization, called out, “I see the Treasury; we all see Hypocrisy!” to which she heard a loud and resounding echo from the spirited protesters spilling into the intersection, a stone’s throw from the White House.
“We are going to be everywhere!” said DeMoro.
They had come from across the U.S.—nurses from California, Texas, Maine and a dozen points in between…representatives of HIV/AIDS activist organizations, students, consumers, labor and the environmental groups, demanding a Robin Hood Tax be enacted to fund the social safety net currently under siege, to rebuild communities crushed after the financial collapse of 2008 and to direct resources to international efforts for the research and treatment of HIV/AIDS and to combat climate change.
“Robin Hood is going to give back to the people what Wall Street took and allow humanity to survive,” said Bridgette Weyhrauch, RN, who made joined the protest from Florida. “It will allow RNs to take care of patients in a way all human beings should be cared for.”
RHT Campaigners rallied at Farragut Square in D.C. three days after Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) reintroduced the “Inclusive Prosperity Act – H.R. 1579” in Congress. Ellison’s bill, which embodies RHT principles and goals, would levy a sales tax on Wall Street, in particular the high-frequency trading that’s come to dominate the markets. H.R. 1579 would raise hundreds of billions of dollars a year, sorely needed new revenue.
“The money raised will bring jobs into the community and support healthcare,” said Vanessa Pineda, an RN from Texas. “People are coming into the hospital too late. Washington better start listening.”
From the Square, the volley of chants was loud and clear. “We need a Robin Hood Tax. It’s time for bankers to pay us back!”
“We can see an end to AIDS in our lifetime,” said Michael Tikili, of Health GAP. “There is something perverse,” said Larry Hanley, of the Amalgamated Transit Union. “Slashing transit services when people lose jobs and cars?”
Mike Wang, a student from American University in D.C. spoke of the huge debts incurred by college students. “A Robin Hood Tax,” he said, “can help make educations more affordable. Help us pass this tax!” “We have opened a door that ain’t gonna close,” said RoseAnn DeMoro.
Italian trade unionist, Rosa Pavanelli, leader of the global union federation, Public Services International, was present, along with labor representatives from Canada, Argentina and Mexico.
“Eleven countries in the European Community, welcomed by the trade union movement, have passed a financial tax. These 11 have two-thirds of the GDP of the entire European Union.” She added, “It is time for bankers to pay their fair share and for the 99 % to collect our fair share.”
Marching past the U.S. Chamber of Commerce national headquarters, this multitude of Robin Hoods, many with Robin Hood hats, carried boxes of faux money to that corner where Treasury sits.
The boxes – marked “Medicare for All,” “End Global AIDS/HIV,” “Retirement Security,” “Quality Education,” and “Reverse Climate Change,” – represent critical goals shared by all Robin Hood Tax Campaigners and the money in them the revenue that a Wall Street tax would provide.
There was a roar of approval from this merry troupe. But in their eyes was a look of sober determination. The tax is past due.