Feb
08
2012

Proposed ‘Pelosi Provision’ of the STOCK Act unveiled yesterday.

The STOCK Act – which is short for the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act; honestly, I wish that they’d stop coming up with cute names for these.  This particular one is not really obnoxious, but some of them have really reached for the acronym – started to get really pushed through last year, once it came out that Members of Congress, including then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, were profiting unduly from legal insider trading*.  I call it ‘legal’ not in the sense that there was nothing wrong with said insider trading; I call it ‘legal’ because Congress exempted itself from the rules that the rest of us have to follow. The distinction is important.  It’s perfectly legal for, say, Senator Dianne Feinstein to buy into a biostock company just before the company picks up a fat government subsidy check, even if she knew about it ahead of time.  That’s the problem.

Anyway, one of the more egregious things being done – again, involving then-Speaker Pelosi in at least one case – was the practice of offering Members of Congress a favorable position from which to buy into an IPO.  Pelosi in particular used this practice to buy into a Visa IPO, right before credit card legislation that hampered Visa got somehow sidetracked in Congress for a year; she ended up making a killing on the (again, ‘LEGAL’) deal.  And, naturally, the amendment that would ban this practice in the future has been named the ‘Pelosi Provision’ by Republicans.  By all accounts, the former Speaker is unhappy about this; I am uncertain whether or not that she is as unhappy about this as I am that the woman made several million unfortunately-legal dollars off of her former position to manipulate and delay legislation, but I somehow doubt it.

The bill is largely expected to pass, by the way: the real fireworks will be in conference.  If the thing gets defanged, it will be there – so keep an eye out for that particular problem.  It wouldn’t be the first time that a troublesomely reformist piece of legislation got revised out of existence, while out of camera range…

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: Politico reports that the STOCK Act’s original sponsors Louise Slaughter and Tim Walz are unhappy that the Republican majority has taken away their bill and are now busily reshaping it.  Alas for Rep. Slaughter, it’s not exactly Eric Cantor’s fault that she was incapable of getting it passed in the first place…

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