The wagon dealers in Washington make housewives out of the rest of us.
Members of Congress get expense accounts worth more than a million dollars, lifetime pensions and generous perks — but for the greedy, that’s not enough: They also make big money trading stocks in the same companies regulated by Congress.
Stock-picking by members of Congress should be illegal because they have an unfair advantage over the rest of us. They are aware of the regulatory burdens or legal changes these companies are likely to face. And senior leaders – like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – can control the future for these companies.
This control is gone. Pelosi and her husband, venture capitalist Paul Pelosi, report trading assets worth tens of millions of dollars annually, largely at big tech companies. The Nancy Pelosi Portfolio Tracker estimates, based on these reported trades, that the pair outperform Wall Street titans like Warren Buffett. Larry Kudlow of Fox Business marvels that Pelosis outperformed the S&P 500 by nearly 15% in 2020. All the while, it has been softening demands to regulate big tech companies.
Members of Congress aren’t the only ones doing a double-take. Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida resigned on January 14, following the resignations of the Fed chairs in Dallas and Boston. They are having trouble trading stocks and mortgage-backed securities while making Fed policy affect those markets.
An investigation by the Wall Street Journal found that some jurists are also getting on the stock-collecting train. Sixty-one federal judges traded company stock while the company was litigating in their courtroom.
Congress needs to stamp out this rampant corruption, starting with its own.
Senator John Osoff (D-Georgia) introduces a bill requiring federal lawmakers and their immediate families to place their shares in a trust or diversified mutual funds. Republican Senators Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) — as far to the right as Ossoff to the left — say they will introduce similar bills.
Pelosi has the power to stop them all. In March, Pelosi kept a bipartisan ban on stock trading even from exiting the Rules Committee and entering the House floor for a vote.
If Republicans take over the House in the midterms, you have to count on the stock trading ban to gain momentum. Encouragingly, Biden’s economic adviser, Brian Dees, is backing the ban “to restore confidence in our institutions,” suggesting that the president might actually sign it off.
Limiting stock trading will also pave the way for the urgently needed reform of Big Tech.
In October 2020, on the eve of the presidential contest between Trump and Biden, Facebook and Twitter hid the devastating findings of The Post, that Hunter Biden’s laptop had involved his father in secret deals with the Chinese.
Big Tech really does have the power to upend an election by depriving the public of bad information about a single candidate.
To prevent this, Senator Bill Haggerty (R-TN) introduced the 21st Century Freedom of Speech Act, which would regulate big tech platforms — and treat them like railroads, phone companies, and other public utilities.
AT&T can’t stop you from using the phone because it hates your political rhetoric. But Facebook, Twitter and YouTube routinely silence speakers they don’t like, even the President of the United States. This proposed law would put an end to it and restore free debate.
What stands in the way? Democrats are eager to silence what they call “disinformation” — no matter how true one person’s misinformation is. But another barrier is the Democrats’ big equity investments in big tech companies.
Nearly half of Big Tech’s Democratic lawmakers own property, compared to just 14% of Republican holdings. Pelosis has earned between $5.6 million and $30.4 million investing in just five big tech companies — Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft — since 2007. It’s no wonder it’s been slow on reforms to the big tech companies.
When they say it’s not money, you can bet it’s money. Congress makes money, freedom-loving Americans are ruined.
Betsy McCaughey is a former deputy governor of New York.