Insider trading deeply entrenched in US political system, Bill faces hurdles


Illustration: Chen Xia / Global Times

U.S. media New York Post reported on Sunday that first-year Democratic Senator from Georgia Jon Ossoff is considering introducing a bill that would bar members of Congress and their families from trading individual stocks.

It is somewhat absurd for a lawmaker in the United States, a liberal capitalist country, to advocate restricting the freedom to engage in stock market transactions. The essence of American society is that the rich and powerful take everything, and freedom in the country is only for these people. So the political system does not really endorse freedom and democracy. It is a political system that allows the dominant to do whatever they want, while the weaker ones face social injustice.

There have been several similar bills before, including the Ban Conflicted Trading Act introduced in March to ban trade by members of Congress and their senior officials. In 2012, the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act was passed under the Obama administration to prevent members and employees of Congress “from using non-public information derived from their official positions for personal and other purposes. ‘other purposes’.

However, US media outlet Business Insider recently discovered that 52 members of Congress and 182 senior congressional officials had violated the STOCK law. “Many members of Congress, both liberal and conservative, are united in their demonstrated indifference to a law designed to crush corruption and limit conflicts of interest,” the report read.

It is not uncommon for US senators and representatives to use their power for economic gain. This is a typical act of corrupt politicians who interfere with the normal functioning of the market and abuse national resources. And since many American lawmakers are the ones who break the law, it could lead to public mistrust and dissatisfaction with American politics and the constitutional system.

The bill proposed by Ossoff highlights the extreme bad image of some members of Congress who take advantage of the flaws in the imperfect United States system and their positions for personal gain.

This includes the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, one of the wealthiest American lawmakers. Pelosi’s husband is reported to have “committed” millions of dollars trading shares of technology companies. Pelosi herself publicly defended stock trading by lawmakers in December, saying the United States is “a free market economy” and members of Congress “should be able to participate.”

One of the key elements in the process of improving the American political system is indeed to find a way to prevent lawmakers from using their information or other privileges for their own benefit and that of their families. Ossoff’s proposal is a wake-up call for members of Congress to focus more on serving the public interest. However, for now, the process of bringing Ossoff’s potential bill to fruition appears to be strewn with pitfalls.

On the one hand, Ossoff said he plans to introduce the bill once he finds a Republican co-sponsor. But so far, no Senate Republican appears to have spoken publicly against Congressional stock trading, according to the New York Post report.

Also, it is difficult for Bill to thrive and perform its original function under the toxic American system. American politics are very divided and all issues are politicized. This means that any bill proposed by Democrats, no matter how well intentioned, will be politicized and fought against by Republicans.

Is it possible to change the toxic system when the politicians in key positions are not themselves “clean”? For them, promoting projects or bills that improve social justice means being morally crucified by the general public. It is obviously against their will.

Ossoff’s idea of ​​banning individual stock trading in Congress is in the interests of the general public. But with a large number of corrupt senators, the bill that will be introduced by Ossoff will not pass smoothly. This is because when the issue is raised in the Senate it will only become a question of whether the bill is in the political and personal interest of certain parties or politicians.

It is still quite uncertain what the end of this bill will face. Even if it ends as Ossoff wishes, the bill will be enacted amid fierce partisan struggles in the US Congress. The current American political machine is functioning abnormally.

The author is a professor at the Institute of International Relations, China University of Foreign Affairs. [email protected]

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