Yahoo Finance reports:
A year ago President Obama signed the so-called STOCK Act. The point of the act was to allow the public to see for themselves if members of Congress and their employees were trading on material, non-public information. "The STOCK Act: Bans Members of Congress from Insider Trading" was the bolded headline at the top of a lengthy and self-congratulatory press release.
Last Monday the White House website took the guts out of the STOCK Act in one run-on sentence under the headline "Statement by the Press Secretary on S. 76." Those so inclined are invited to read the memo themselves. The gist is that disclosures will no longer be practically available for all employees but only for the elected officials, which means staffers, lobbyists, employees, aides and anyone who works for or is close to a serving politician can do whatever they want. Corrupt officials could theoretically still dish insider info with little fear of discovery — it's just hard for them to trade off of the information themselves.
The idea of transparency is to remove doubt about conflicts of interest and malfeasance, real or imagined. When the rules are quietly changed to such a degree, it defeats the purpose entirely.
On the one hand, the STOCK Act's prohibition on insider trading remains intact, which is a good thing. On the other hand, I agree completely with the author that transparency via disclosure was essential. As Justice Brandeis that sunlight is the best disinfectant and electric light the best policeman.
The scandals and routine abuses Peter Schweizer exposed in Throw Them All Out cried out for reform. Congress was dragged kicking and screaming into reform, but now has started chopping back on it. Time to hold their feet to the fire yet again.