As was reported yesterday, President Obama signed a law gutting insider trading regulations on Congress. An incredible act when one considers the 2008 campaign platform of Barack Obama to roll back the influence of lobbyists and “change Washington” by bringing transparency to the federal government. By signing this law Obama has done incredible damage to transparency and open government – allowing, in effect even promoting, the continuing corrupt practices that have made most Americans lose trust in their government. Signing this law does not inspire hope and it certainly is not change.
In an investigative report by 60 minutes it was revealed that members of Congress were profiting by selling stocks and bonds using inside information. A crime when done by virtually anyone else. Members of Congress traded healthcare securities during the debate on Obamacare and financial securities during the bank bailouts. Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, and Spencer Baucus have all benefited from trades involving legislation they have worked on according to the report.
After the report aired there was a renewed push to reform the system and the STOCK Act was passed. Included in the bill were provisions to force financial disclosures from senior executive and congressional staff – the people who run the day-to-day operations of the executive and legislative branches of government.
And then the gears on the malevolent machine started turning. Despite the fanfare and happy rhetoric of the STOCK Act bill signing, no one in Congress or the White House actually wanted substantive reform. Sure the people out front would take a little tweak in their privileges but power in Washington isn’t wielded out front, it’s mastered behind closed doors. Behind closed doors and on the hush hush where congressional staffers and lobbyists meet to carve up the taxpayer’s money and scheme their careerist schemes – which, ironically, is probably where the effort to gut the STOCK Act started.
In any case, a bill removing the reporting requirements for executive and congressional staff stealthily made its way through Congress (guided by congressional staff of course) and was signed into law on Monday. Insider trading in Congress just got a lot easier. You might have never heard about it if not for independent media as the corporate press took a pass on covering the story. They were happy to cover the initial bill signing though (free food?).
So returning to Obama’s promises for transparency. The law Obama signed may be one of the most anti-transparent laws passed in recent memory. Combine that with the sneaky Monsanto immunity bill, hidden corporate tax subsidies in the Fiscal Cliff deal, and intense resistance to transparency on his assassination program – it’s not looking good for open government. If there was any doubt this latest gutting of transparency and oversight of Washington Insiders by President Barack Obama has surely secured his legacy as just another politician that betrayed the public’s trust.