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Opinion

It’s a start

A ban on insider trading by members of Congress and other federal officials seems like a given. Now it’s a law.

April 5, 2012

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The insider trading legislation signed into law on Wednesday may not be enough to turn around the public’s opinion of the U.S. Congress, but it’s a step in the right direction.

By overwhelming margins (96-3 in the U.S. Senate and 417-2 in the House), a measure was approved last month that prohibits members of Congress from trading stocks and other securities on the basis of confidential information they obtain as lawmakers. The law also makes clear that the insider trading ban applies to members of Congress and their aides, as well as officials in the federal government’s judicial and executive branches.

To most Americans, it seems like a no-brainer that lawmakers shouldn’t be able to base personal financial decisions on inside information they receive in confidential meetings. Unfortunately, it appears it was necessary to write that principle into law.

The issue of insider trading jumped to the public’s attention as a result of a report last November on the “60 Minutes” television news magazine. The show examined questionable dealings by three lawmakers: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker John Boehner and U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala. All three members of Congress responded to the report by saying they had done nothing wrong, but, less than a week later, legislation was introduced to institute an insider trading ban. The bill also requires lawmakers to disclose the purchase or sale of stocks, bonds, commodities futures and other securities within 45 days of the transactions, rather than doing it only once a year, which is now the requirement.

There is good reason for members of Congress to be concerned about their public image as they move toward November elections. Earlier this week, Rasmussen Reports released results of its most recent national telephone survey, in which only 6 percent of likely U.S. voters rated the performance of Congress as good or excellent. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed thought Congress was doing a poor job.

Passage of the insider trading legislation may or may not improve Congress’ job rating, but it at least indicates lawmakers want to boost public confidence in their integrity and honesty. It’s a start.

Comments

kernal 2 years, 8 months ago

Was that a sigh of relief that washed across the country this morning? At last they did something worthwhile. Now if they can just keep up the momentum.

Armstrong 2 years, 8 months ago

Good thing Nancy got her dirty dealing out of the way early

jafs 2 years, 8 months ago

You must have missed the part about Boehner and Bachus, both R.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

How about a ban on corruption,turning blind eyes and fraud?

Banking On Fraud

This should alarm smart people far more than the national debt:

Still Banking on Fraud | Dollars & Sense

Reforms Fail to address the “control fraud” that caused the financial crisis. By William K. Black

A truly amazing thing has happened in banking. After the worst financial crisis in 75 years sparked the “Great Recession,” we have

  • Failed to identify the real causes of the crisis
  • Failed to fix the defects that caused the crisis
  • Failed to hold the CEOs, professionals, and anti-regulators who caused the crisis accountable—even when they committed fraud
  • Bailed out the largest and worst financial firms with massive public funds
  • Covered up banking losses and failures—impairing any economic recovery
  • Degraded our integrity and made the banking system even more encouraging of fraud
  • Refused to follow policies that have proved extremely successful in past crises
  • Made the systemically dangerous megabanks even more dangerous
  • Made our financial system even more parasitic, harming the real economy

And pronounced this travesty a brilliant success Dollars and Sense

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

Ban fraud and special interest financing of elections! Why?

Taxpayers will be on the hook for another giant Wall Street bailout, and the economy won't be mended, unless the nation's biggest banks are broken up.

That's not just me talking, or the Occupier movement, or that wayward executive who resigned from Goldman Sachs a few weeks ago.

It's the conclusion of the Dallas Federal Reserve, one of the most conservative of the Fed's regional banks.

The lead essay in its just released annual report says a cartel of giant banks continues to hobble the recovery and poses an ongoing danger to the economy.

Wall Street's increasing power remains "difficult to control because they have the lawyers and the money to resist the pressures of federal regulation." The Dodd-Frank act that was supposed to control Wall Street "leaves TBTF [too big to fail] entrenched."

The Dallas Fed goes on to argue that the Fed's easy money policy can't be much help to the U.S. economy as long as Wall Street is "still clogged with toxic assets accumulated in the boom years."

So what's the answer, according to the Dallas Fed? It's "breaking up the nation's biggest banks into smaller units."

Thud. That's the sound the report hitting the desks of Wall Street executives. They and their Washington lobbyists are doing what they can to make sure this report is discredited and buried.

When I spoke with one of the Street's major defenders in the Capitol this morning he snorted, "Dallas represents small regional banks that are jealous of Wall Street." When I reminded him the Dallas Fed was about the most conservative of the regional banks and knew firsthand about the dangers of under-regulated banks -- the Savings and Loan crisis ripped through Texas like nowhere else -- he said, "Dallas doesn't know its [backside] from a prairie gopher hole."

Huffington Post

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

We've got a long way to go before congress is cleaned up..

by Robert Reich Marketplace for Wednesday, April 4, 2012

AUDIO Read the Dallas Fed report

Last week the Dallas Fed issued an explosive report (PDF) -- predicting America will face another financial crisis and be forced to bail out Wall Street again unless the biggest banks are broken up.

This isn't the Occupy movement. The Dallas Fed is one of the most conservative banks in the Federal Reserve system. And it knows first-hand about the dangers of under-regulated banks -- the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s and '90s affected Texas like nowhere else.

According to The Dallas Fed report, Wall Street's power makes it almost impossible to control because "they have the lawyers and the money to resist the pressures of federal regulation." This means the Dodd-Frank act, which is supposed to prevent another financial calamity, is woefully inadequate.

Wall Street seems intent on proving the Dallas Fed correct. At this very moment its legion of lobbyists is pushing legislation in Congress to weaken provisions in the Dodd-Frank law regulating the trading of derivatives.

Meanwhile, the same lobbyists are swarming over the regulatory agencies charged with implementing Dodd-Frank. They've been trying to weaken other provisions, like the so-called Volcker Rule that bars banks from gambling with commercial deposits. The Volcker Rule is now riddled with loopholes large enough for the bankers to drive their Ferraris through.

Where they haven't yet eviscerated Dodd-Frank, Wall Street's lawyers have been going to court to stop it. Recently, they delayed a rule by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to limit speculation in commodities such as oil.

Clearly Wall Street hasn't learned its lesson. The public will not tolerate another financial meltdown and bailout, and yet Wall Street won't accept more regulation. If it's too big to fail and too powerful to regulate, the only answer is, according to the Dallas Fed "breaking up the nation's biggest banks into smaller units."

We did it to the giant oil companies a century ago because they were too powerful, economically and politically. It's time to apply the same medicine to Wall Street.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

In spite of this ban I am in no way convinced this bill stopped much of anything. Why? Because the bill was designed by the criminals...... can we say loopholes?

Therefore this is still a grand idea:

Move Your Money - To local institutions and do your community a large favor.

A database to assist those wishing to move their money out of big banks that took taxpayer money and used it to pay themselves large bonuses:

http://moveyourmoneyproject.org/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/move-your-money-a-new-yea_b_406022.html

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/4/move_your_money_project_urges_people

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