How DC Establishment Can Git ‘er Done

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The conventional wisdom says the title of this column is wrong. DC is just gridlock with too many rigid ideologues that can’t agree on anything. Harry Reid can’t move anything in the Senate without 60 votes, and Eric Cantor can’t move anything in the house without 116 Republican votes in support. A little more than two weeks ago the activity in DC did not support this narrative.

On Thursday, April 11th, Senator Harry Reid introduced and passed S. 716 with no debate and no recorded vote. The next day, after all scheduled business had already been finished, Rep. Eric Cantor introduced and passed the same bill, also with no debate and no recorded vote. The whole process took only 30 seconds. President Obama signed this hastily-passed and under-examined bill into law on Monday, April 15th.

S. 716: A bill to modify the requirements under the STOCK Act regarding online access to certain financial disclosure statements and related forms. STOCK is the acronym for Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge. The original bill was introduced 1/26/12 by Sen. Joe Lieberman as S.2038. It took a lot longer to make S.2038 law than S.716. The original bill had to pass thru a Senate committee, go thru 10 amendment votes in the Senate, pass in the Senate, pass the House with changes, pass cloture in the Senate, and then get signed by Obama on 4/4/12.

Reporting requirements included in the STOCK Act would have gone into effect on Monday, April 15th unless there was a change to the law. Here are the changes that were made under such suspicious circumstances:

  • Congressional staff and most executive branch employees will now be exempt from financial reporting.
  • The financial information won’t have to be submitted until January 1, 2014.
  • The STOCK Act created an online database which would “allow the public to search, sort, and download data contained in the reports.” This bill eliminates the online searchable database.
  • The STOCK Act said “no login shall be required to search or sort data contained in the reports made available…”. This bill eliminates this sentence.
  • The STOCK Act required the financial information to be posted online; this bill now makes that optional.
  • There were particular concerns about risks for those executive branch employees who either travel overseas on government business or work overseas. They used basically the situation of questions about whether some language in the bill was overbroad to just gut the bill — to gut the transparency measures that apply to themselves. These rigid ideologues did this quietly and quickly.


    This month around May 6th there will be a vote requiring online businesses to disclose and collect state sales taxes. These businesses will be vulnerable to getting tax audits performed on them by 45 States and DC. Don’t expect the DC establishment to be as worried about the risks to online businessmen as they were for their own financial disclosures.

    A recent poll reveals that the wealthy support the establishment. The stock market Dow Jones is hovering around 15,000, real estate in DC and NYC is robust. The big money donors are still making contributions to their PACs. In their minds they just don’t see a problem, and this is a big disconnect between the DC establishment and the rest of us.

    Cross-posted at Unified Patriots

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