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Commentary: SC can define the 2020 presidential race

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J.A. Moore (copy) (copy)

J.A. Moore is the District 15 S.C. Representative. Provided

South Carolina will play a decisive role in the 2020 presidential election. Holding the nation’s most diverse early primary, our state can define the issues and propel the best candidate to the head of the ticket for an equally diverse Democratic Party.

A lot is riding on our choice. As we assess the candidates’ plans and weigh elusive factors like electability, we should also be clear-headed about the costs of new social

programs and the burdens that could fall on working families. Because no one can win the White House by promising to harm the middle class

Among the distressing “pay-fors” being floated by several leading candidates is a financial transaction tax. A wide gulf divides perception and reality on this concept. Taxing all financial transactions is often sold on the left as a means to compel Wall Street and the richest 1% to pay their fair share. But unfortunately, the tax’s greatest consequences would beset everyday Americans.

Palmetto State retirees would be the first to feel the effects in their 401(k)s, pensions and other accounts. About 1 in 5 South Carolinians today is over 60 years of age, and we’ll have 1.5 million older residents by 2030. Caring for seniors and empowering them to remain integral to our communities will only get harder if unnecessary taxes threaten their limited incomes.

Already, bankruptcy among older populations is skyrocketing, and large numbers of retirees are reentering the workforce as minimum wage employees to supplement dwindling assets. African Americans and other minorities are more likely to live on the edge of hardship in their later years. After working all their lives, they could find themselves with just enough to get by.

I strongly disagree with taxing retirement accounts and accelerating the arrival of the day when seniors lack any further savings to fall

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back on. I can’t imagine delivering the news to today’s employees that they will have to toil for years longer to achieve even the same precarious financial standing as prior generations. And who could break it to union members that their

pensions could get smaller in order to fund a single-payer health

care system most of them don’t want?

When I look at young people, I see yet another sad story with the financial transaction tax. A modest rate affecting education savings accounts would force the average college student to take on $7,500 more in loans. And there is at least one presidential front-runner after Iowa who favors charging five times as much. This seems unconscionable.

Finally, given my background in culinary arts, I can’t help but worry what this tax would mean to South Carolina’s 25,000 farms and our Lowcountry food culture. If farmers lose their margin on agricultural futures, a key financial management tool, most would have no choice but to pass on the costs to consumers. Working families would pay higher grocery bills, and rising menu prices could drive restaurant customers away and businesses into the red.

We can avoid these negative outcomes by backing a more realistic candidate to take on Donald Trump. Not only would doing so help protect our own investments in the future, such an individual stands the best chance of earning victory in November and turning the country from its disastrous course.

State Rep. JA Moore, D-North Charleston, represents House District 15, which includes parts of Berkeley and Charleston counties.

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