Burger says the NNU does not want the tax applied to transactions such as home mortgages, loans, initial public offerings, publicly traded short-term debt, or mutual fund or 401(k) accounts. "Basically it is geared toward the in-and-out, speculative transactions," she says.
The estimated $350 billion in revenues that a financial transactions tax would raise was taken from a study done by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Robert Pollin, an economist at PERI and an author of the study, says the $350 billion estimate -- while possible -- probably is overly optimistic. "I myself would not argue that you are going to raise $350 billion at this rate because we have to assume some reduction in trading volume," Pollin says. "Nobody really knows how much trading volume would go down with such a tax. In my opinion probably a better estimate would be in the range of $200 billion."
NNU cites estimates that the $2.4 trillion in government bailouts to financial and other institutions already spent would have funded 63 million jobs at the national median level of about $39,000 a year.
Union organizers say the 61 members of Congress were targeted for the demonstrations both because of their high-profile on Capitol Hill, and because they lived in districts with high numbers of NNU members.
Burger says NNU elected to stage multiple rallies at legislators' home offices because they would be harder to ignore than a mass rally in Washington, DC. "Groups rally at the Capitol all the time and the get brushed under the rug and Congress is off the hook. But back in their communities, that is where they take notice," she says. "That's where their voters are."