The battle between corporate interests and the public interest is on again this week. We are working to ensure the public interest prevails!
On Tuesday, there will be a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee because some in Congress aren’t pleased with the legislative momentum of the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge” (STOCK) Act, a bill with a Senate counterpart that takes aim at elected officials personally benefiting from insider trading information they are often privy to as members of select committees. As Public Citizen’s lobbying and money/politics expert Craig Holman explains,
The panel is geared toward killing the bill by arguing that congressional insider trading is already illegal, despite the fact it has never been enforced when it comes to Congress.
According to Holman, “The STOCK Act is a legislative imperative. We know that many members of Congress are active traders in the market, and they enjoy a 6 percent higher rate of return on their investments than the market. Either these members of Congress are geniuses when it comes to stock trading, or they know something the rest of us don’t – and trade on it.” We are sending a letter to lawmakers encouraging them to stop with the committee panel theatrics and go ahead and pass this bill.
On Wednesday, the House votes on the third of three anti-consumer bills designed to eviscerate the process that brings us clean air rules, food safety regulations and other sensible safeguards. This time, lawmakers will vote on the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2011 (H.R. 10/S. 299). This bill is nothing short of an attempt to repeal the 21st century, so expect a statement from the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards!
Also on Wednesday, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, will be holding a seminar during the MIT Knight Journalism Program’s Medical Evidence Boot Camp in Cambridge, Mass.
And on Thursday, we expect a vote in the Senate on the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is still not fully functional because it lacks a director! Republicans are threatening to block the nomination because they want to first weaken the agency before it even gets fully off the ground. Have they already forgotten about the 2008 Wall Street crash? Look for a showdown on this one.
The Democracy is For People campaign is busy as ever this week, mobilizing to challenge corporate dominance over our elections and pass a constitutional amendment overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission. Next up on their agenda: nationwide organizing parties on December 15— Bill of Rights Day– which we’re excited to announce will feature the legendary Texas populist and “fighter against the powers that be, for the powers that ought to be” Jim Hightower. Our previous Nov. 9 video conference call was broadcast live at Occupy camps from Los Angeles to D.C. and in the homes of hundreds of activists. It’s not too late to sign up to host your own gathering this time around! Of course, all of this is building toward the 2-year anniversary of Citizens United, on January 21, when we’ll be joined by a growing number of partner organizations and citizens around the nation to demand a constitutional amendment. Later this week, we’ll have more on Citizen Vox about how this nationwide day of action will work and how you can help Occupy The Corporations on that day.
Democracy is for People’s Aquene Freechild is also up in Vermont right now doing some grassroots organizing, and will be checking in with a dispatch from the road. And finally, later today Sean Simperstein and Nema Shadinia will take a look at the wide range of issues impacted by the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)– which (fittingly) held its convention in Arizona this past weekend– and how that organization’s power is only enhanced under Citizens United.
Of course, classic overachievers that we are here at Public Citizen— we are battling corporate interests globally as well this week. The Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement is being negotiated in Malaysia; our own Burcu Kilic is in Kuala Lumpur and will be speaking about why it’s critical to ensure that the agreement does not help Big Pharma but instead helps ensure greater access to life-saving medicines.
Last but certainly not least, we will be holding the annual Phyllis McCarthy Award ceremony tomorrow. This is named after a longtime employee in our Health Research Group who died in 2002. The award recognizes an “unsung hero” in the public interest movement in the United States and gives credit to someone who is fundamental to the functioning of their organization. This year’s recipient: our own Aileen Walsh, a Public Citizen development officer and executive assistant to our president, Robert Weissman. She takes on a lot of other roles as well. Watch this space for photos and a recap of the ceremony.
Rachel Lewis is a former wonk turned public-interest fighting Twitter/Facebook/YouTube machine! She would be thrilled to death if you followed @Public_Citizen, @RegsRock, @RuleByUs this week for the latest news from Public Citizen, facts about the war on regulations and all things related to money/politics. She would be equally thrilled if you spread the word about Public Citizen’s spring New Media internship!