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Report: Wall Street Swamps Congress with Campaign Cash and Lobbyists to Block Small Tax on Securities Trades

Washington, D.C. – A small tax on Wall Street trades would raise substantial revenue and reduce high-speed trading, which would benefit everyday Americans. The financial industry is opposed, though, because the tax would eat into its profits. A new Public Citizen report shows how financial service entities and other corporate lobbying giants have flooded Congress with campaign cash and lobbyists in an attempt to keep the proposal at bay.

“Wall Street’s leaders and their apologists know they cannot win this debate on the merits, so they have turned to campaign contributions in an attempt to influence Congress, especially the leaders of key committees,” said Susan Harley, managing director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “A financial transaction tax is a commonsense solution to raising revenue equitably and curbing high-speed trading’s abuses.”

Among the findings of the report:

  • Nine out of the ten organizations that have the most lobbyists working on the FTT issue area strongly oppose the tax.
  • The three organizations with the most lobbyists fighting the FTT are all lobbying giants: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, and the Investment Company Institute.
  • Groups that have lobbied on the FTT contributed more than $32 million to members of Congress and party committees in 2018 and more than $41 million in 2020. The largest campaign contributor in the 2018 and 2020 cycles combined was Charles Schwab, which gave $13.9 million.
  • Pivotal members of the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Financial Services have received significant donations from organizations lobbying on the FTT. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), Ranking Member of House Financial Services Committee, is arguably the most vocal opponent of the FTT in Congress and received the second highest amount of money from FTT lobbying groups out of any member of the House.
  • Republican Party committees received more than $15 million from groups that lobby on the FTT in 2018 and 2020, nearly twice as much as Democratic Party committees.

In shining a light on these significant contributions from opponents to the tax, Public Citizen hopes that Congress will take action and dedicate a hearing to the topic of taxing Wall Street trades.

Read the report here.