Rep. Joe Baca

By Jim Steinberg Staff Writer
Posted: 09/01/2011 06:12:22 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – “Wall Street got bailed out. We got sold out,” they chanted.

Some 200 people gathered Thursday in front of the district office of Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, seeking endorsement of a plan to tax Wall Street transactions, such as the purchase or sale of stocks, bonds and derivatives.

The very visible campaign here by National Nurses United – the largest nursing union in the nation – was echoed across the country in 21 states and in front of the offices of 59 other members of Congress on Thursday.

Nurses like Rhonda Watts, who works in the intensive care unit at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, told San Bernardino rally attendees stories of patients who after losing their job, cut out health insurance so they could pay the rent.

The nursing group found a receptive ear from Baca, who, on the sidewalk in front of his office, signed a large print version of a pledge to support legislation establishing the transaction tax.

“We are sending a message to the people on Wall Street that we are tired of you taking our money and not investing in the American people,” Baca said.

National Nurses United spokesman Charles Idelson said in a telephone interview the group has signed pledges from “six or seven” members of Congress, including Baca.

“We are just beginning this campaign,” he said.

Banks and other financial institutions received some $2.46trillion in bailout money, and given the difficult financial situation of many Americans, “it’s time for Wall Street to pay some of that money back,” he said.

The nation had a financial transaction tax from 1914 to 1966. After the 1987 stock market crash, a number of high-profile politicians, including then-Senate Majority leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., and President George H.W. Bush, endorsed reinstating it, according to a National Nurses United position paper.

And currently, more than 15 nations – including those having the seven fastest growing markets – have a financial transaction tax, says the union statement.

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