Thursday, December 15, 2011

Information For The Privileged

It's no secret that members of Congress somehow come out of their service far wealthier than they went into it. What isn't as well known is how they manage that increase in personal worth. As reported in a recent "60 Minute" program, one way has been to engage in a practice that would be illegal if done by the rest of us, and apparently some in Congress want to keep it that way.

House Republican leaders have foolishly sidetracked a bipartisan ethics bill in Congress to ban members from using inside information they gain in private hearings and discussions in stock trades. Insider trading is illegal generally, but Congress’s apparent exception from the ban was never a concern on Capitol Hill until a recent report on “60 Minutes” questioned whether various members were profiting from back-room knowledge.

That report caused lawmakers in both houses to fast-track enactment of an explicit ban. The House version picked up 225 co-sponsors in a matter of days after gathering dust for years in the good-ideas hopper. However, committee action, scheduled this week, was abruptly postponed when Eric Cantor, the Republican majority leader, said unnamed members considered the measure “flawed and being recklessly moved solely in response to media pressure,” according to Mr. Cantor’s spokesman.
[Emphasis added]

Apparently Mr. Cantor and some of his cohorts are unfamiliar with the role that a free press has in a functioning democracy. Either that or they want to subvert it for their own personal gain. The "60 Minutes" program raised important questions when it comes to those charged with representing us and not just the financial behemoths. That kind of "media pressure" is exactly what our press is supposed to exert when it is functioning properly.

I suspect that what the House Republicans blocking the bill really object to is being caught with their hands in the corporate cookie jar and having to face a sugar-free diet when it comes to their "just desserts."

Interestingly, the Senate has no such qualms. The governmental affairs committee has approved a bill which explicitly bans such insider trading. Presumably the bill will come to a vote soon (no doubt after the holiday recess), and will hopefully be passed.

Maybe in addition to "media pressure" some "constituent pressure" is in order. It is, after all, an election year.

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Blogger Owls said...

What is the new number on the bill?

Where can we read the bill?

How can I continue to write my congresspeople if I do not know what bill I am writing about?

Why to corporate have to report in two days, and congress gets a month?

12:43 PM  

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