Rockville MD, December 10 – Organizers from the Maryland United Front against Austerity (UFAA) today brought the call for a 1% Wall Street Sales Tax to a trade union protest demonstration at the Rockville office of Congressman Chris Van Hollen, a Pelosi retainer and ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee. The Wall Street Sales Tax represents the only measure capable of stabilizing the US federal budget with trillions of new revenue from untaxed Wall Street banks and hedge funds, while avoiding deadly austerity cuts to the social safety net.
Today’s Rockville demonstration, attended by about 50 people, was called by National Nurses United, a militant union which supports taxing Wall Street turnover under the heading of a low-powered Robin Hood Tax. The NNU was represented in Rockville by one speaker, who demanded no cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, identifying health care as a basic human right. “Don’t push seniors off the fiscal cliff,” she said. Unfortunately, the need to tax Wall Street transactions was not mentioned.
The master of ceremonies was an AFL-CIO official who warned in general terms about the attack on collective bargaining currently being carried on by reactionary Republicans in Wisconsin, Indiana, and most recently in Michigan. He condemned so-called “right to work” laws as servitude, and demanded the maintenance of full union rights and the institution of the living wage. He also warned against demands for the transformation of the US into a low-wage economy, pointing out that low-wage jobs are not real jobs and do not build the middle class.
A representative of the postal workers warned of ongoing attempts to sell off and privatize the United States Postal Service. He pointedly reminded Van Hollen that, when the congressman was a young lawyer, it was the unions who gave him the support he needed to become an elected official. It is now time for Van Hollen to help the labor movement in its hour of need or else face the consequences, he added. No member of the congressman’s staff came out to talk to the demonstrators.
A labor delegation delivered demands to Van Hollen’s staff, as did the UFAA representatives, who made two main points: first, there must be no cuts or austerity for the already meager social safety net. Secondly, the necessary revenue can only come from the Wall Street Sales Tax, levied on the biggest untaxed money stream in the world.
The majority of those attending were from the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Many sang familiar Christmas tunes with words calling for no austerity and more taxation of the rich. The UFAA proposals were appreciated by several members of the Democratic Connection Book Club of Montgomery County. Some participants agreed that “Wall Street Sales Tax” is a more effective slogan than “Robin Hood Tax,” and that this tax needs to be at least 1% of all stocks, bonds, and derivatives. There was also discussion of Obama’s notorious tendency to capitulate to Republican demands.
Members of the troubled LaRouche Youth Movement, which has recently experienced major defections, handed out a leaflet demanding that restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act be made the central issue of all agitation. Glass-Steagall, while a useful process reform, lacks the mass traction and agitational power of the simple demand to maintain entitlements and social programs at all levels of government through the simple expedient of taxing Wall Street’s colossal untaxed turnover.