White House says stock-trading tax is worth studying after GameStop frenzy

The White House supports studying the merits of a financial transaction tax — a move favored by progressives and despised by Wall Street — in the wake of the GameStop trading frenzy.

The GameStop situation highlights the serious issues of investor protection and market integrity, a White House spokesperson told CNN Business on Sunday. The potential impact of a financial transaction tax on GameStop-like trading deserves additional study and can be part of a greater evaluation of such a tax for revenue and market stability, the spokesperson said.

Some Democrats have backed a tax on stock trading as a way to raise badly needed revenue and address concerns about the health of financial markets. On Thursday, House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters said she’s “very interested” and “certainly looking at” a financial transaction tax.

A 0.1% tax on stock, bond and derivative transactions could raise $777 billion for the federal government over a decade, according to a 2018 estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

However, such a tax would face fierce opposition from Wall Street and it’s unclear whether moderate Democrats would support it. Opponents warn it would backfire on retail investors by raising costs and making financial markets less liquid.

“This approach has a long history of unintended consequences that will penalize workers, pensioners and American families,” a spokesperson for the Coalition to Prevent the Taxing of Retirement Savings told CNN Business.

That coalition includes the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and UBS. Citadel Securities and Virtu Financial, two high-speed trading firms that would be hurt by a financial transaction tax, are also members.

“An FTT will increase trading costs for investors — including individuals — undermine the competitiveness of our capital markets and harm the U.S. economy just as we work to recover from this pandemic,” the spokesperson said.

During a heated exchange at a hearing last week, Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib pushed back against Citadel Securities founder Ken Griffin’s concerns about a tax.

“Let’s not gaslight the American people. Y’all will be fine with the tax,” she said. “Our folks are tired of bailing you all out when you screw up.”

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