Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

Democrats are in control of Washington and have big plans. The approval of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package is just the beginning. But big plans equal big dollars, and the money has to come from somewhere.

There is a proposal floating through Congress and the White House that we need to let Senator Tester know is a non-starter for Montanans — the financial transaction tax.

The financial transaction tax has been a popular proposal among the Democratic party’s left flank. By imposing a $0.01 tax on financial transactions, the goal is to rein in Wall Street and pay for government programs. In the wake of the GameStock trading frenzy last month, many progressive lawmakers have resurrected this proposal. President Joe Biden has even indicated a financial transaction tax would be worth exploring and I see it was discussed during a recent Senate Banking Committee hearing of which Senator Tester was apart.

Unfortunately, what supporters of this measure don’t understand is that it wouldn’t hit wealthy Wall Street types like they think it would. Instead, it will hit everyday, middle-income investors, including Montanans that are saving for retirement and future education.

Almost 70 percent of private industry jobs, including small businesses, offer retirement plans as do unions and the government through 401ks and pensions. The fact is, these are investments and they are managed and traded by Wall Street to maximize funds. And much like how a gas tax is paid at the pump, savers would pay this tax every time they transact. Many Montanans count on these funds to retire after working for 40 or more years.

As chairman of the Montana House Appropriations Committee, I spend most of my time on financial policy, and I have seen countless well-intentioned bills have unintended consequences. A financial transaction tax would do just that. It would tax the hard-earned investment money of our middle and lower class and it would prolong their retirement two years or longer.

Being a rural, reasonably-priced state, Montana is very attractive to retirees. I hope that Senator Tester will remember his constituents when this proposal is considered again.

—Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad

By senior