As predicted: watered down insider trading bill
Yesterday I posted about the insider trading bill which, in addition to making it illegal for politicians to trade on their insider knowledge, was also going to force “political intelligence firms” to register as lobbyists. Note that this is simply a form of transparency- they, people who work mostly for hedge funds and private equity, didn’t have to stop getting insider information, they’d just need to admit that they were getting it. But I guess that’s TMI from their perspective. From the Wall Street Journal article:
Rep. Eric Cantor, the No. 2 House Republican, plans to bring his version of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or Stock Act, to the floor of the GOP-controlled chamber on Thursday, using a procedure that will prevent lawmakers from voting on major amendments. It is expected to pass by a wide margin.
At issue are changes Mr. Cantor made shortly before midnight Tuesday, when he unveiled his amendment to a bill that sailed through the Senate last week.
Most notably, Mr. Cantor cut a provision that would require people who mine Washington for market-moving information to disclose their activities in the same fashion as lobbyists. The provision covering what is known as the political-intelligence industry was opposed by Wall Street and its Washington lobbyists, including the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), which mounted an effort to kill it.
Just to be clear on who is writing legislation nowadays: they are called SIFMA, and they represent the players in the financial industry. You may remember them from this post, where they hired the research firm Oliver Wyman to investigate the impact of the Volcker Rule for a congressional hearing. Shockingly, that research firm thought the Volcker Rule should be watered down.
What exactly is the argument this guy Cantor is using to defend this change? I’d love to hear him come out and say, “I did it because SIFMA told me to”. How come we don’t get to see that argument made and defended? No wonder people don’t like or trust Congress. Even so I’ll give the last word to one of their members:
The House Democrat who has pushed for the legislation for the past six years—Rep. Louise Slaughter (D., N.Y.)—opposed the GOP-backed changes.
Ms. Slaughter said in a statement that the Cantor-backed version of the insider-trading bill was crafted “in secret, behind closed doors, brokering deals for special interests.” She added: “How ironic—insiders now appear to be writing a bill meant to ban insider trading.”