The Midmorning Refill: Congressional staffers are playing the market, selling out the public trust

Today’s Flickr Photo

From a rally against Prop 23 in downtown Los Angeles. Flickr photo by Faultybox.

If you read one thing today . . .

This  seems like a no-brainer — a law that would prohibit members of Congress and their staffs from making stock market trades based on inside information they learn on the job. A no-brainer, except that the sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., has been told by colleagues that they’ll block any attempt to make them play by the same rules as everyone else in the country. Perhaps, they think padding their income with a few “smart” stock bets is a matter of congressional entitlement. Erika Lovely writes about it in Politico:

“There are some members who seem to think the rules just shouldn’t apply to us,” said Baird in an interview with POLITICO. “There’s money to be made, lots of it, and in ways that aren’t clearly illegal.”

Baird’s comments were spurred by a Monday report from the Wall Street Journal, which analyzed trading activity by Capitol Hill staffers between 2008 and 2009 and found market bets were made by high-level aides whose bosses helped influence related policy.

Overheard:

There’s a minor furor in the West Virginia Senate race over a commercial that the National Republican Senatorial Committee aired featuring some blue-collar types sitting around a diner complaining about the Democratic candidate’s ties to President Obama. The problem was that the diner was actually in Philadelphia and the West Virgina guys in trucker hats were actors who answered a casting call for “hicky” types. Governor Joe Manchin, the Democratic candidate, is hoping the dust-up will give his sagging campaign a boost:

“I wouldn’t have been upset if they said we want coal miners and truckers,” [Manchin] told me.  “Those are 2 of the most honorable professions we have- hard-working people. But to cast that in such a disparaging light is just awful. And that does get your blood boiling in West Virginia whether you’re a democrat, republican, or an independent.  It should get them fired up.”

See the ad here.

Etc.

This is why I love living in America and why communism doesn’t hold a candle to good, old-fashioned democracy — someone like Alvin Greene, an unemployed veteran, can literally come out of nowhere and be the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina.