The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Ken Zinn, (240) 235-2008

Nurses Call on Senate to Oppose CROmibus Unless Gifts to Wall Street, Wealthy Donors, Attack on Pensions Removed


Citing fatal flaws in new handouts to Wall Street, wealthy donors, and an attack on the living standards of pensioners, National Nurses United today called on U.S. Senators to oppose the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (CROmibus) unless those provisions are removed.

In a letter to members of the Senate, NNU Co-President Karen Higgins said that "cutting pensions for seniors on fixed incomes, providing one more give-away to Wall Street and allowing the rich to further corrupt our nation's elections move this country in wrong direction. We urge you to vote against this bill unless these provisions are deleted."

Another bailout for Wall Street

A provision, drafted by CitiGroup and JP Morgan Chase, would allow banks to engage in more types of risky trading with taxpayer-backed money would gut a rule created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act. That rule ordered banks to move their riskiest activities, such as default swaps and trading of commodities and derivatives, to new entities so that deposits guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) would not be endangered.

"If this becomes law, the largest FDIC-insured banks in the country will be able to make a wider range of these risky trades. As a result, taxpayers could be on the hook--again-- in the event of another financial crisis. As a result, Congress would be once again socializing risk while enabling more profits to go into the pockets of Wall Street. This give-away to the banks must be opposed," said Higgins.

Instead of giving Wall Street an additional gift, NNU has said, Congress should pass HR 1579, the Inclusive Prosperity Act, authored by Rep. Keith Ellison. That bill, also known as the Robin Hood tax, would set a small tax on trades of stocks, bonds and derivatives raising hundreds of billions of dollars annually for critical needs such as jobs, healthcare, retirement security, and fighting climate change and HIV/AIDS. The tax would also discourage some of the most risky trades that led to the 2008 economic crash.

Protecting low income seniors

NNU strongly opposes the provision that would allow private multi-employer pension plans to drastically cut retiree benefits, which would cause serious harm, said Higgins, "to millions of pensioners who were made promises of defined retiree benefits for their life time of hard work."

Efforts to shore up the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. should "not be done on the backs of senior citizens on fixed incomes," noted Higgins. "Employer participants in multi-employer plans should be required to increase their contributions to the funds in order to ensure that promised benefits are paid, Higgins noted. Many alternative sources of funding for the PBGC exist, including HR 1579.

Further corruption of the political process

A provision of CROmibus would raise the amount that couples can contribute to political parties. from $32,400 to $324,000 for donations to finance parties' national conventions, election recounts and headquarters buildings. That means individuals could give $648,000 in a two-year campaign cycle, with a married couple capped at almost $1.3 million for an election cycle. "If passed into law, such a provision will further corrupt the political process that is already heavily weighted in favor of the rich and powerful," said Higgins.

National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in US history.

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