President Obama’s plea to ban Congressional insider trading may poll well and have bipartisan support, but it’s already facing stiff resistance from lawmakers the morning after his State of the Union address.
On Tuesday night, the president spoke in no uncertain terms: “Send me a bill that bans insider trading by Members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow,” he said. “Let’s limit any elected official from owning stock in industries they impact.” The remarks were cause for celebration for Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer, who authored a 2011 book exposing Congressional insider trading, and 60 Minutes, which ran a widely-viewed segment based on his book (CBS quickly uploaded the portion of the speech last night). But early reactions from Congress (Republicans and Democrats) shouldn’t encourage much optimism.
“Easier said than done is my reaction,” Democratic Rep. Jim Moran tells Politico‘s Manu Raju. “Unless you are fairly precise about it, you can conceivably influence almost any corporation.”
“It’s all transparent – if you own stock, you have to report it,” said Republican Sen. Rob Portman, defending the current rules governing personal finances.
“It’s a good sentiment, but it becomes very difficult to buy a mutual fund and then wonder what they bought,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, told the D.C. newspaper. “And many of us are trying to find some way to divorce ourselves from that possibility. It is hard when we consider so many different issues.”
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), one of the wealthiest members with a minimum net worth of $181 million, wouldn’t answer directly on whether members should limit the stock they own. “I think what he’s talking about is avoiding conflicts of interests, which we should do,” Kerry said. “I think it’s very important not to have these conflcits of interest.”