Obama Quietly Passed a Law Making Insider Trading Easier for US Politicians

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by Patrick Henningsen

The whole concept of avoiding ‘conflicts of interest’ is a virtue now consigned to history in the United States.

Remember the good old days, when the good men and women of America got into politics to help serve their country, and not for the money?

Imagine if you were able to pass a law that would regulate your own behavior and ultimately define the consequences of that behavior. That’s what all politicians in Washington DC do on a regular basis.

When it comes to regulating their investments whilst in office, they are able to pass laws that allow them to use special foreknowledge (that only lawmakers and government regulators have) for personal gain.

It’s all about finding that golden loophole. Once upon a time it was called “insider trading” … hardly a crime on Wall Street anymore (props to Goldman Sachs), and neither in Washington DC, or so it seems, according to the President and his legislative branch.

Now we know how hard it is to be a politician these days. Many of you genuinely feel that there should be some additional value-added perks to your job as a public servant. After all, our elected officials deserve some extra compensation for shunning the public sector and offering their incredible talents for the public good, right?

While tragic events in Boston are dominating the national media this week, US President Barack Obama quietly signed a bill, and one which passed rather swiftly through Congress we might add … it’s a bill that prevents key financial disclosure forms filed by senior governmental employees from being posted online. In a rare display of cross-party cooperation, both sides of the aisle seemed happy to approve (surprise, surprise) by unanimous consent.

This latest bill specifically alters the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or “STOCK Act”, which, when it was originally drafted was intended to be a law designed to combat insider trading on Capitol Hill – until our elected officials got their teeth into it that is.

This is how the criminals usually work – quietly and in secret: the bill passed both House and Senate chambers on a voice vote (where lawmakers’ names are not recorded). Both chambers cleared the legislation in near record time by Washington DC standards – taking only ten seconds in the Senate and 14 seconds in the House to pass.

According to the report below, “The bill represents a major blow to government transparency”. It certainly does and then some, but more than anything it just makes it a lot easier to get richer from a career in politics.

This is really the sort of law you would expect to be passed in a corrupt banana republic, with a fascist dictator presiding over a government full of self-interested industrialists. So is this the new America?

Obama signing a bill like this with the hyper-sonic, complete backing of both chambers of government spells out everything that is wrong with American government today and why so few people trust anyone who calls themselves a politician or government staffer. It’s also a prime example as to why so many Americans have all but given up on the political process, almost forced to submit to its systemic corruption.

This is one of the ways in which our long-serving Congressmen/women, Senators, esteemed residents and staff in the White House are able the amass such huge fortunes during their glorious political careers- by simply gaming the system.

One set of rules for the people, and another set of rules for our “leaders”.

It does not appear that they can actually be trusted to make decisions that govern political life.

STOCK Act: President Obama Signs Bill That Would Kill Government Transparency Database

Policy Mic

Keeping tabs of financial conflicts of interest on Capitol Hill just got more difficult. On Tuesday, President Obama signed a bill passed by Congress that would prevent financial disclosure forms filed by senior governmental employees from being posted online.

Washington DC politicians can breathe easier now that Obama has better enabled insider trading for them.

The bill passed both the House of Representative and the Senate on a voice vote. In a voice vote, now members of Congress’s votes are not recorded. The Senate and House both cleared the legislation by unanimous consent, taking only ten seconds in the Senate and 14 seconds in the House of consideration to pass. The bill represents a major blow to government transparency, according to government watchdog groups.

The bill modifies the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, a law passed to combat insider trading. The bill effectively repeals a provision that requires financial disclosure forms to posted online into a searchable database in order to be easily assessed. Proponents of repealing the measure argued that it would increase the risk of identify theft and other crimes against disclosures as well as security concerns for the government.

But such disclosure forms are technically already available to the public. Without the provision, the forms must be requested individually from government agencies. The Center for Responsive Politics and the Sunlight Foundation, two pro-government transparency organizations harshly criticized the bill. Lisa Rosenberg of the Sunlight Foundation said of the move, “The result: More corruption and less trust in government.”

Dan Auble of the Center for Responsive Politics said of the bill,

Without the provisions, the STOCK act is made toothless. Insider trading by members of Congress and federal employees is still prohibited, but the ability of watchdog groups to verify that Congress is following its own rules is severely limited because these records could still be filed on paper — an unacceptably outdated practice that limits the public’s access.

This is not true disclosure.

The bill does not completely gut the STOCK Act. Federal workers would still be required to report securities trades over a $1,000 threshold within 45 days and make them available to the public. The president, vice president, members of Congress, candidates for Congress, Cabinet members, and deputy secretaries are still required to post financial transactions online. However the searchable database was killed along with the requirements that federal employees post transactions.

However the searchable database was considered by some to be the most effective part of the act. Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility Ethics in Washington said that, “by getting rid of the online disclosure they get rid of the only effective part. It’s almost a useless act.”

Rather than reforming the act to address privacy concerns, Congress just decided to get rid of those requirements entirely. The approach is known as “security through obscurity,” the idea being that by making the system difficult, people who want to engage in malicious acts will be discouraged from accessing the information. The drawbacks of such a system are immediately obvious, as a criminal simply needs to be dedicated enough to go through the system in order to gain the information they desire.

The STOCK Act has already been criticized for being incomplete. In 2012, a loophole in the STOCK Act was discovered that could have allowed family members of lawmakers to still profit from inside information, which was promptly corrected. No word if they will fix other efforts at weakening the act soon.

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  • big reb

    no big surprise here

    • Mark Fazio

      Now that they can make millions on things that the lowly citizen can do, They can be caught eventually and called what they really are, “CRIMINALS”.

  • encjoe

    You are showing your ignorance again. Obama cannot pass any laws. The only body that can pass a law is Congress. But, please, do not let a little thing like verifiable facts get in the way of your propaganda.

    • VegasJim

      Idiot. The bill was SIGNED into law by Obozo. He no sign, there no law

    • Anonymous

      the congress DID pass the law–pres only signed it–ALL IN RECORD TIME!!!!

    • at

      The bill cannot become law until the final step of Obama signing it. The article clearly states both congressional bodies passed the bill and the president signed it into law. Your “bias” and “incompetence” have been duly noted!

    • RickE.

      Good old NoCerebrum joe! (isn’t that what’s the nc stands for?).

  • Okay, this is what Martha Stewart went to prison for, correct? I’m so proud of our president ( I use that term loosely) passed a law that will help politicians commit a crime more easily. I am appalled that this man has NO MORALS whatsoever. I feel so horrible that he has children to ruin. It seems nothing is below him. I grieve for our nation under his “rule.”

  • Texan Texan

    You are quoting commie lib organization. But as o e of your brilliant posters has already pointed out, Obama is not president so not a law. And the law was, of course, passed by the legislators. Signing it does make it legal. No sign, no law. Hahahah. Martha went to jail for insider trading. This bars posting of disclosure statements. Not really the same thing. But he facts.

    • Garry

      Actually, Martha Stewart was jailed for perjury, not insider trading. They found no evidence she broke any insider trading law, but misrepresented facts under oath, much like Libby…

  • Rich

    All Politicians, Staffers, etc… along with their family members should be prohibited from investing in anything. Upon running for office and for five to ten years after leaving office should be prohibited from any investments or working for a company that has hired a lobbyist. All assets beside their home should be required to be put in a non interest bearing account during this time. Violations should be punished with at least 30 years in prison for all involved for violating this including adult children that receive illegal gained funds. This will help encourage these lowlifes to be one term politicians and promote those whom really want to serve.

    • “All Politicians, Staffers, etc… along with their family members should be prohibited from investing in anything…. Violations should be punished with at least 30 years in prison for all involved for violating this including adult children that receive illegal gained funds. This will help encourage these lowlifes to be one term politicians and promote those whom really want to serve.

      BINGO!

  • Rich

    This is why they are for immigration reform. They know it will not impact them or their family. They will gain financially or politically from it. The looser will be the average American with lower wages, more unemployment, higher taxes, and faster collapse of government systems such as Social Security and Medicare.

    They politicians are making sure they got theirs and are sticking it to the rest of us.

  • Rich

    You have to look at how wealthy all these politicians and their family members become after being elected.

    Al Gore was the deciding vote to sell off military oil reserves when oil was about $10 a barrel. He claimed he did not benefit for he owned no stock in the company buying the reserves. Problem was his mother owned the stock and made a ton. The company buying it made a ton for oil prices soon after sored costing the military a fortune to replace later.
    Hillary made a trade so 30 plus years ago and made six figures off a one time trade. This was never really researched to show this was a payoff.

  • Mark Sb

    This is why they want our guns.

  • emjay98

    I am so disappointed that this has been passed without us having a chance to even know about it. Looks as if almost all the politicians think they are more important than any of the rest of us. It is time to cancel out these sneaky representatives and senators. It points out that most of them are interested in only what is good for themselves. Shame on them.

  • Don

    It is time for the American voter to wake up. Do not vote ANY existing politician back in office. There must be a major housecleaning in congress. The stench has gotten too bad to ignore any more.

  • Jamie

    Will all honest politicians please stand!!

    • Honest Politician is an oxymoron because there are no honest politicians. Even if they are honest when they go to Washington, they quickly become corrupt.

  • papajohn704

    So Now Pelosa And Reid will not have to show how they make money while in their offices

  • Bill

    For GOD’s sake, drain the friggin swamp, NOW!!

  • emjay98

    There is a sure way for a candidate to win an election against any of the carefully guarded and unpublished signers of this self-serving act. In complete disregard for the American people, they felt they should be able to make the Stock act just another toothless law which was meant to keep the politicians honest and shield the people against such chicanery. If you want to become a representative or a senator, or even president, just promise to right the laws they have voted to ignore.

  • howard g

    When will all citizens get some “balls” and vote these SOB sleaze balls out of government and get them in jail!What a sorry group of liars,cheats,no-good.VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE

  • STOCK TIPS ARE BRIBES. EVERY POLITICIAN WHO DID ONE TRADE SHOULD GET 20 YEARS IN FEDERAL JAIL TOMORROW. GO VER EVERY RATS STOCK TRADES AND MATCH PATTERNS.