Guest post from John Karebian, Executive Director of Michigan Nurses Association. Cross-posted from Fight for Main Street.
It’s impossible to know what the supercommittee is thinking as they approach the Nov. 23 deadline to recommend cuts of $1.5 trillion or more. They generally meet behind closed doors, and Michigan’s two supercommittee members have refused to hold public town halls to listen to citizens’ input and answer their questions.
So, we at the Michigan Nurses Association held citizens town halls last night ourselves in their districts – in Midland for Congressman Dave Camp and Kalamazoo for Congressman Fred Upton.
Folks shared their personal stories and talked about the need for jobs and other issues. In essence, though, they talked, often emotionally, about wanting to live in an America that reflects some basic values that most of us have in common: Everyone should pay their fair share. People who work hard and play by the rules should not suffer while cheaters thrive. We should take care of each other. Corporations that damaged our economy should be held accountable. And our elected officials should get their priorities straight and put people first.
We’ve been told that “everything is on the table” when it comes to the supercommittee; that includes Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other programs that we, the 99 percent, have invested in and depend on.
Well, one thing we know is that Camp and Upton do not share the 99 percent’s belief in basic principles like paying your fair share.
It’s more than being in the pocket of Wall Street and special interests, as we called them out for with our radio ads and billboards. Camp and Upton protect corporations that make billions of dollars in profit and yet don’t pay a dime in taxes.
Big Camp and Upton donors were all over a report on corporate taxpayers and corporate tax dodgers, released this month. These are multi-billion companies that even though they made billions in profits, paid NO taxes in 2008, 2009 and 2010. If you paid any income tax at all, you paid more than Verizon, Boeing, General Electric, Honeywell and many other giant profitable corporations.
These companies used fancy tricks to avoid paying their fair share, funneling their money instead into the campaign funds of Camp, Upton – and undoubtedly many more. No, corporations are not using their record profits to create jobs – they are using them to buy politicians, even as they complain about the lower and middle classes not paying our fair share.
And they are using their profits, earned on the back of working men and women, to pay their CEOs obscene amounts.
- Verizon paid CEO Ivan Seidenberg $18.1 million in 2010
- Honeywell paid CEO David Cote $15.2 million in 2010
- General Electric paid CEO Jeff Immelt $15.1 million in 2010
- Boeing paid CEO Jim McNerney $13.7 million in 2010
Wall Street is doing better than ever, thanks in good part to the taxpayer bailouts they received from all of us. Meanwhile, Michigan’s unemployment rate is 11.1 percent as we struggle to pick up the pieces of an economy wrecked by greedy corporations.
There is a solution to this twisted cycle: a small fee on Wall Street trading that will raise billions of dollars and help avoid supercommittee cuts that hurt the 99 percent. Michigan nurses have been pushing for a financial transaction tax of less than one percent, which already exists in some form in more than 40 companies, for months because it is a fair and effective step that will help build an economy that works for the 99 percent.
The money raised would be used for priorities supported by our Main Street Contract for the American People: jobs at living wages, quality schools, health care for all, good housing, secure retirement, and a clean and safe environment.
Those are the kind of values and priorities that reflect the America that the 99 percent want. Together, we can create it.