Throw Them All Out

Required Reading for Voters

Via c4p, Newsweek/Daily Beast is featuring Peter Schweizer’s expose of rampant Congressional Insider Trading and Crony Capitalism. All perfectly legal (for them, they make the rules, after all) and all highly unethical.

In the Spring of 2010, a bespectacled, middle-aged policy wonk named Peter Schweizer fired up his laptop and began a months-long odyssey into a forbidding maze of public databases, hunting for the financial secrets of Washington’s most powerful politicians. Schweizer had been struck by the fact that members of Congress are free to buy and sell stocks in companies whose fate can be profoundly influenced, or even determined, by Washington policy, and he wondered, do these ultimate insiders act on what they know? Yes, Schweizer found, they certainly seem to. Schweizer’s research revealed that some of Congress’s most prominent members are in a position to routinely engage in what amounts to a legal form of insider trading, profiting from investment activity that, he says, “would send the rest of us to prison.”

For example:

While examining trades made around the time of the 2003 Medicare overhaul, Schweizer experienced what he calls his “Holy crap!” moment. The legislation, which created a new prescription-drug entitlement, promised to be a huge boon to the pharmaceutical industry—and to savvy investors in the Capitol. Among those with special insight on the issue was Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the health subcommittee of the Senate’s powerful Finance Committee. Kerry is one of the wealthiest members of the Senate and heavily invested in the stock market. As the final version of the drug program neared approval—one that didn’t include limits on the price of drugs—brokers for Kerry and his wife were busy trading in Big Pharma. Schweizer found that they completed 111 stock transactions of pharmaceutical companies in 2003, 103 of which were buys.
“They were all great picks,” Schweizer notes. The Kerrys’ capital gains on the transactions were at least $500,000, and as high as $2 million (such information is necessarily imprecise, as the disclosure rules allow members to report their gains in wide ranges). It was instructive to Schweizer that Kerry didn’t try to shape legislation to benefit his portfolio; the apparent key to success was the shaping of trades that anticipated the effect of government policy.

Daily Beast also has a gallery of mug shots highlighting 8 of our busiest Get Rich Congress members and, wait, there’s more! also  an article on Obama’s Lucky Friends who just happen to get government subsidies, the fact that they are bundlers having nothing to do with it.

Back to the original article, I am stunned to see a mainstream news actually say this out loud:

What Schweizer says he does hope is that others will take up his mission—requiring only time, online access, and a willingness to wade through public databases—and eventually crowd-source reform. A Throw Them All Out campaign is an interesting prospect—a movement that both Sarah Palin and Michael Moore could embrace. Schweizer’s motivation and his message could well be a credo that transcends partisan conflict.

We can’t just change the uniforms, we have to change the whole team. Throw them all out.

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21 Responses to Throw Them All Out

  1. myiq2xu says:

    I thought we were supposed to go camping instead?

  2. Jeffhas says:

    It should be illegal, and the public should demand a law… I bet it would be fought vigorously by the incumbents.

    • votermom says:

      From the article:

      Schweizer notes that the Senate’s ethics manual devotes an entire chapter to the proper use of the mail and of Senate stationery, but is silent on the subject of insider trading. Ditto the rules of the House, which state that a member’s recusal from a vote affecting his or her stock portfolio “might be denying a voice” in the process. Neither the executive nor judicial branches allow such laxity.

      I love that excuse — recusing themselves would be denying their constituents a voice in the process.

  3. votermom says:

    The book comes out tomorrow. I will have to get hold of a copy.

  4. DeniseVB says:

    Remember when Martha Stewart went to jail ? Something about a silly little insider trading, but they nailed her for lying to the feds.

    • votermom says:

      See, if she had been Representative Stewart, she would have been immune from all charges.

    • DandyTiger says:

      Good thing too. None of us were safe while she was out free. She might have shown us how to make s’mores from scratch or something horrible like that.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      I remember that. I wondered then who she had pissed off, because it was obvious it was a hit job. There are tons of dudes on actual Wall Street who’d done far worse and everybody knew it. I can’t wait until she exacts here revenge. You know she will bide her time and dole it out when the time is right.

  5. murphy says:

    Brilliant. Just read a fascinating article on crowd-sourcing science and other academic problems that has already yielded impressive results. Technology that makes it so easy to see everything may just be the thing that kills crony capitalism/politics. They can’t hide anymore.

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2011/11/11/how-crowdsourcing-changing-science/dWL4DGWMq2YonHKC8uOXZN/story.html

  6. dm says:

    Count me in…which is why I don’t understand the Occupy movement at all…Washington is where every single one of them should be…not Zucotti Park.

  7. HELENK says:

    http://biggovernment.com/publius/2011/11/14/monday-open-thread-insider-edition/#idc-container

    remember the picture

    read the comments,

    more and more information will come out and I do not think it will be forgotten by election time

  8. votermom says:

  9. HELENK says:

    princess nancy says ” I am not a crook”

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/13/politics/60-minutes-pelosi/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

    what is the timeline for her to start singing ” here come the bus”?

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