How often do we have to learn that our Congress is not living by the laws that apply to the rest of us? In the latest example, CBS’ “60 Minutes” recently reported that members of Congress are exempt from insider trading laws, and, as if that were not bad enough, there is clear evidence that several members of Congress have actively used their private market knowledge to selfishly make a personal profit.
Rep. Timothy Walz (D-MN) has proposed HR 1148 to address this issue; however, a quick review of this bill shows how weak it really is. The bill simply makes it illegal for Congressmen and their staff to trade certain stocks when they have become aware of certain non-public information. While this might sound reasonable, it would likely be difficult to successfully prosecute anyone under the law because the prosecutor would be forced to prove that the Congressmen was aware of the information before a specific trade. This is a high burden of proof.
At a minimum, Congressmen and their staff should be required to put their investments into a blind trust so that they have no idea how their money is invested. Better yet, if Congress is to really live under the same laws they force on the rest of us, they should be required to invest their savings in the same manner that they invest our Social Security trust fund - by buying U.S. treasuries. Perhaps they would then think twice before they unwisely devalued the dollar.
Of course, people with real integrity do not need to wait for a law to do the right thing. Integrity is what you do when no one is watching. As a candidate for Congress, I pledge that, if I am elected, I will place all of my savings into treasuries or equivalents - and I challenge every sitting Congressman to do the same thing starting today.
It is time that we lead by example.