I've made it a somewhat regular habit of reading the presidential press releases (among other things) that are posted on the White House website. There are all kinds of interesting things going on in Washington that never seem to make the front page,
Yesterday I came across a White House press release that really ticked me off.
The press release simply said that President Obama signed legislation that removes specific disclosure/transparency requirements of the STOCK Act. What is the STOCK Act? It stands for Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the legislation "explicitly said members of Congress and their staffs are not exempt from the prohibition of insider trading placed on everyone else."
So, why would the president roll this back? And why was it done so quietly?
After reading more about the original STOCK Act, the first question becomes hard to answer. The second is pretty clear. Evidently at the time this was passed, news reports were coming out citing various academic studies that said lawmakers with access to market-moving information were disproportional lucky when it came to their stock trades.
I can only wonder how that whole "Hope and Change" thing from the 2008 Obama campaign feels to the president's supporters. Though much of what was said during the campaign was vague and fluffy, I actually thought Obama was pretty clear on his plans around government transparency. Remember? He said were going to see an Obama administration committed to making a "change" in Washington by rolling back the influence of lobbyists and bringing more transparency to the federal government. So much for that campaign promise.
DS Wright properly summarized my sentiments:
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 ever 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.