You have to hand it to Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Her forced hand in cracking down on stock trading by members of Congress, she turns it into a huge boon for lawmakers — most certainly including her.
Pelosi coyly called for treating Congress the same as the executive branch when it comes to actions — and thus the “strict” sense bill. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Steve Daines (R-Mont) would, yes, force members and their spouses to sell their individual shares, but Also give them a ginormous tax break.
According to the fine print, any member who converts holdings into treasury bills or shares of broad-based investment funds can defer paying capital gains tax until those new assets are sold. What if they die before the sale? No earnings cap at all.
Pelosi calls this an “interesting feature” of the bill. We bet.
She fought past efforts to end the dodgy practice (reversing a March 2020 bill on the issue) and was insipid on that specific bill last week. In December, she argued that members who trade individual stocks are OK because ours is a “free market economy” and they “should be able to participate in it.”
And boy, she and her venture capitalist husband Paul participated. From 2007 to 2020, Pelosis has raked in as much as $30.4 million from deals on Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, though insiders suggest it has slowed its efforts to regulate those companies. In 2020, their portfolio beat the S&P by almost 15%.
Suddenly, she’s open to reform – now that it could save her family millions.
Of course, her hypocrisy is old news: She racked up nearly half a million dollars in private jet bills in 2020 and 2021 as she called tackling climate change a ‘moral obligation’ during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. She flouted the mask rules that she demanded everyone follow.
Prohibiting members from trading is a no-brainer. As former Office of Government Ethics boss Walter Shaub notes, unless they “wear microphones around the clock, the public has no way of knowing what information they intentionally or inadvertently have. shared”.
But fixing this disgrace is no reason to give them a new privilege to run a tax that everyone has to pay.
The public service should not be a profit center.
New York Post