An Investigation and Another Glitch for the STOCK Act

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Friday’s Washington Post reported that the Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating Alabama Republican Spencer Bachus, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, for possible insider trading.

Bachus was Exhibit A in that 60 Minutes piece on CBS last November that cast a withering look at the investment habits of certain members of Congress.

Former Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson talks with Rep. Spencer Bachus after testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on AIG. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
In this AP file photo, former Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson, left, talks with Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., on Capitol Hill in Washington, after testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on AIG in 2010. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Just before the 2008 financial meltdown, Rep. Bachus attended closed door briefings with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke. “While Congressman Bachus was publicly trying to keep the economy from cratering,” 60 Minutes reported, “he was privately betting that it would, buying option funds that would go up in value if the market went down. He would make a variety of trades and profited at a time when most Americans were losing their shirts” (Bachus said the 60 Minutes account was “absolutely false”).

The CBS report and the resulting public outrage resuscitated the long-moribund Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which was passed overwhelmingly by the Senate on February 2 and by the House of Representatives this past Wednesday. However, Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor and GOP leadership removed a key provision from the House bill and now a conference committee will need to reconcile the two versions.

What was excised was an amendment to the Senate bill requiring those working in the rapidly growing field of political intelligence — “in which companies seek out private congressional information to sell to financial firms looking to turn a profit on it” — to register and disclose their activity as lobbyists do.

Instead, the House bill merely calls for a study of the political intelligence industry. This dismayed the STOCK Act’s original sponsor and staunchest advocate Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY). Now 82 and serving her 13th term, she’s more than qualified to render judgment. Rep. Slaughter told the congressional newspaper The Hill, “We’ve been around long enough to know that when you say you’re going to do a study that means you’re going to condemn it to death.”

Cantor’s change also angered the White House and the amendment’s sponsor, Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who said, “It’s astonishing and extremely disappointing that the House would fulfill Wall Street’s wishes by killing this provision.”

Ultimately, whatever comes out of conference probably will be approved by Congress and President Obama will sign it.

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  • Perfectclue1

    It is important for Bill Moyers and all liberals why social reforms and politica labels are MEANINGLESS.   Social reforms in class deformed civil societies, monopoly class deformed markets only take hold , and then only temporarily, when social revolutions threaten to end class history and Late Capitalism, because the operating principle of all class deformed civil societies is the degeneration of already, crippled class republics, class democracies, devolving and degenerating into class tyrants, class Empires.

    For this reason the political labels of class parties, class ideologies, reformist socialist/labor parties HAVE NO MEANING, as their class compromising, fascist appeasement, the “Weimarzation”  of Amerika, have never had social, moral centers, but all shared their CONSERVED LINK to class hierarchies, which produce relative and extreme class/empire despotism, that degenerates into FASCISM,  the police state, fascist laws and the wholesale shifting of all class politicians from sociopaths, into criminal , warmongering PSYCHOPATHS.

    Historically, the ancient Greek thinkers were the first to acknowledge this degenerative class cycle labeling their deformed civil societies into class terminologies:   oligarchy, plutocracy, (class) tyrants and (class) Empires.    They saw their deformed , crippled class
    Republics devolve into the class Empire of city states.   The rise of class history and Patriarchy produced this Patriarchal class mechanism and its class hierachies which deformed social language into class deformed language, through the social inversion of the Matriarchy, through class hierarches and class/property laws, beginning the enslavement of Humanity, first women as property/class relations, then enslaving the whole world by deforming Human nature through the class functions , inversion, subsitution, i.e. corruption of inclusive social values/principles into exclusive class values.

    Two thousand years later the Enlightenment was reversed by the end of the French revolution under Napoleon, inverting social patriotism for class patriotis, class republics that could only degenerate into Late capitalism and FASCISM.  We need to undertand HOW and WHY CLASS HIERARCHIES  make social reforms and political labels MEANINGLESS,  so long as all class deformed ideolgogies are shifting towards DESPOTISM AND FASCISM.  We need a social manifesto and a new theory of History:

    A Social Manifesto against Class History 
    http://asocialmanifestoagainstclasshistory.com/

  • Pat

    I am so thankful that Bill Moyers is once again visible in the media! WE NEED HIS REPORTING!

  • TomPaine

    I attempted to post the following comment on the Moyers & Co. page for the Bruce Bartlett interview, and the mods censored it:

    “Early in the interview this self-proclaimed economic analyst said that after Reagan, the character of gov’t spending has changed, and that now most of the money goes to Soc. Security, Medicare & (grudging mumble) interest on the debt. Where was he from 9/07 through 2009… when $13 trillion were given to the megabanks, and doesn’t he know that so far Soc. Sec. has more than paid for itself costing the gov’t $zero? I’m surprised that Mr. Moyers let this disinformation go by unchallenged.”

    Did Mr. Moyers instruct them to take down anything that questioned the infallibility of his guests or himself?  It doesn’t seem like him. The comment doesn’t violate the policy banning “Profanity, personal attacks, hate speech, off-topic posts, advertisements and spam”. So how is it “inappropriate”?

  • http://www.billmoyers.com/ AnneLBS

    Hi TomPaine,

    Here is a link to your original comment, which was not deleted.

    http://billmoyers.com/segment/bruce-bartlett-on-where-the-right-went-wrong/#comment-437350856