One of the leading causes to the downfall of our government is the amount of insider trading which has been occurring for many years now. When our members of Congress invest in corporations, then support and pass bills which will encourage growth and profit to their investments, this is insider trading. They have been acting in behalf of their own monetary concerns and not in the best interest of the people.
Let’s take John Boehner for example. (I cannot help but in my head I pronounce his name as “boner”). John Boehner has invested a lot of money in Canadian Oil Companies and is pushing to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline at any cost, including tying it to the next payroll tax cut extension. He has invested $365,000 in seven companies that would benefit from the Keystone Pipeline approval, setting himself up to reap great financial rewards from his investment. Activists are calling for his resignation.
A Senate bill banning the trading of corporate stocks by members of Congress based on nonpublic political information will see a vote this week, according to Democratic sources working on the bill.
The STOCK Act, authored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.), would ban trading by members of Congress guided by nonpublic economic or political information. It would also improve disclosures of all stock trades and other financial maneuvers by members of Congress, by requiring them to publicly detail each transaction within 30 days. Lawmakers are currently granted a full year of secrecy before disclosing such financial activities.
The bill received a big boost last Tuesday when President Barack Obama called for its enactment during the State of the Union address. “Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress; I will sign it tomorrow,” Obama said.
One of the bill’s shortcomings has become a political issue in Brown’s 2012 re-election bid. While the bill bans trading, it does not bar legislators from performing political favors for companies whose stock they hold. So long as a lawmaker does not actually sell the stock, but merely watches it increase in value (and perhaps pay out better dividends), members of Congress will remain in the clear. Brown’s Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, has spoken out in favor of expanding the legislation to ban this activity.
Brown himself performed major legislative favors for big banks during the final round of debate over 2010′s Wall Street reform bill. And according to his latest personal financial disclosure form, the Massachusetts Republican owns up to $50,000 of Bank of America stock.
As the financial overhaul approached passage, Brown was the deciding vote determining whether the bill would clear a filibuster in the Senate. He used that position to leverage several changes to the bill that helped large financial institutions, carving out an exemption to the Volcker Rule that allows big banks to continue placing risky bets in the securities markets with taxpayer money, provided they do so through private equity firms and hedge funds. Brown also helped save Bank of America and other banks billions of dollars in up-front costs by axing a plan that would have required them to pay into an emergency fund to cover the costs of big bank failures.
Between this and the fact that fifty-six percent of registered voters say they would vote out every member of Congress if there were a place on the ballot to do so, it appears that the Congress house of cards is collapsing.
“We found the one area in which all people in the country agree,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart. And they say so across the ideological spectrum – with 55 percent of liberals, 55 percent of moderates, and 58 percent of conservatives all feeling the same way.
“People want Congress to get things done, act responsibly and fix the economy,” McInturff said, “and if they don’t,” they could be in trouble. McIntruff added, “These guys are going to be running in a head wind.”