Demonstrators tell Wall Street: Pay your taxes

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DETROIT - We've been paying more taxes than Chase Bank; "how is that fair?" asked Karen Smith, a retiree from Detroit.

With winter winds whipping off the Detroit River, it was not a day for the feint of heart to be demonstrating but Smith was one of the determined souls outside Chase Bank in downtown Detroit. She was protesting Wall Street's misnamed "Fix the Debt" group that is pushing for cuts to critical benefits like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Smith said it's always on the small people, those that have nothing, to be forced to give up even more. "Who's taking care of who" she wondered. She said it's "really scary" living on a fixed income. Her monthly health co-pay just jumped from $15 to $75 a month. She said that doesn't seem like much to Chase but it's a "big bite" of her income.

Greg Wynn, President of Communication Workers of America Local 4100, said the debt crisis is a "manufactured" one since closing tax loopholes and making banks and corporations pay their fair share of taxes would provide the revenue to protect critical programs.

Congress could make it happen right now said Wynn, "we are not talking about small corporations."

The AFL-CIO, which helped organize more than 100 of yesterday's demonstration here and around the country, says corporate tax dodging costs us hundred of billions of dollars every year.

In Detroit it costs people even more. Wynn also noted that Chase Bank, one of the city's largest holders of mortgages, has made millions foreclosing on many of those homes causing a crisis in the city.

Ashley Forsberg, a registered nurse from Lansing, also opposed the "Fix the Debt" group. Nurses don't want "cuts happening to our patients" because their health will suffer.

She was wearing a green "Robin Hood" hat to symbolize the need for a tax on Wall Street financial transactions. She said a small tax of just one-half of one percent would reap hundreds of billions of dollar a year.

The one percent is getting wealthier; the 99 is not, said Forsberg. "We need jobs, not cuts to social services and Medicare."

Photo: John Rummel/PW

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