The culture that is Washington

The Senate has severely scaled back the Stock Act, the law to stop members of Congress and their staff from trading on insider information, in an under-the-radar vote that has been sharply criticised by advocates of political transparency.

The changes, if they become law, will exclude Congressional and White House staff members from having to post details of their shareholdings online. They will also make online filing optional for the president, vice-president, members of Congress and congressional candidates.

The House was expected to pass a similar bill on Friday.

Here is the FT article, here are other sources.  Some officials suggested that transparency “could threaten national security,” more detail on that here.  Here are some further interesting details.


Oh, national security could be threatened? Then nevermind.

Politicians = Thieves

"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."
- Mark Twain

plus ca change etc

I don't understand why, if they are allowed to trade on inside info, the people in congress have to solicit so many political donations. Are they simply incompetent at abusing this gigantic edge that they have? Do they lack the capital? What is it?

Donations are OPM.

What makes you think they don't do both, in addition to every other legal (or semi-legal) money-making scheme that comes with the office?

From the Sunlight Foundation blog:

The STOCK Act’s history has been one of knee-jerk reactions rather than reasoned decision-making.
. . .
The bill, S. 716, was voted on by unanimous consent last night shortly after it was introduced by Senator Reid, and apparently after many members went home for the weekend. The bill was not available to the public on the Library of Congress website until after the vote.

Insider trading is outlawed for mere mortals. But let's certainly have more regulation and crony capitalism so our elected "leaders" and their cronies can benefit at taxpayer expense.

Insider trading laws should be applied to members of Congress, the executive branch, and anyone who works for either.

We also need a to claw back some of the outsized returns our "public servants" get after leaving "public service" and then using their connections and insider knowledge developed at taxpayer expense.

As others have said repeatedly, our country is in the very best of hands.

The changes apply to staffers, not to elected officials, and affect the method of disclosure of their holdings, not their ability (or inability) to trade on insider information.

Devil's advocate: congressional staffers are notoriously underpaid given their importance and workload, and there's not much support for increasing their salaries. If we don't let them get money otherwise, we are going to end up in a world where only the very wealthy, or those taking bribes, can afford to work on Capitol Hill.

Given the long line of people who'd gladly work as congressional staffers, I'm not sure their pay is viewed as a major drawback.

That's already the situation. You work as a staffer or aide for peanuts while supported by spouse / family, and after that you become a lobbyist making lots of money.

If you're lucky. A lobbying position is far from guaranteed.

That's the risk these staffer/wannabes choose to take all on their own. Not my issue. Go choose another profession that pays more.

Thanks for alerting me to this situation.

If I were a FSO working in say Guatemala I don't think I would be comfortable knowing that anyone with internet access could find out my net worth and probably pretty easily obtain my picture and home address too, the internet being what it is. You know since murder, kidnapping for ransom, and blackmail are all pretty popular in lots of places in the developing world. I don't think the U.S. government should be comfortable with that either.

And to revise Tyler's characterization, it was not just "some officials" that "suggested" the act "could" threaten national security. According the Roll Call article linked in the post an independent institute report that was unambiguous about risks involved.

Much ado about something [nothing]. The STOCK Act is already law, about a year old. Apparently it's not about stock market insider trading (which is already illegal for congressmen*) but profiting from inside information. And this law was the subject of this recent scale-back, apparently taking issue with the "on-line" reporting requirement (making it not mandiatory that you report on-line, but rather it would be OK to make a report in paper that is filed in some filing cabinent in DC). I assume that the 'national security' is threatened when a cyber-terrorist could find out who a congressman* associated with, then do a Denial of Service attack on those people.

* since 80% of the US Congress is still male (a record low BTW), I'm safe to say men not people.

Find another career path.

i guess this proves the republicans are not obstructionists and that congress can act in a non-partisan fashion if the cause is just.

Isn't allowing Congress to write the rules for its own behavior exactly analogous to allowing inmates to write the rules for operating prisons ?

Has anyone seen my guillotine?

You left it right next to the Brioche...

At last some bipartisanship!

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