Sarah Palin wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on Friday about Congressional insider trading. Surprise! It’s totally on point.
It looks like former Alaska governor and former VP candidate Sarah Palin has taken a break from her crazy family escapades and reality TV stints to write a surprisingly agreeable piece in the Wall Street Journal. Hating Congress is no longer a stance reserved for those who, like Sarah Palin, hate government in all its conceivable forms even as they try to run for office — according to a poll that came out one month ago, only nine percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing.
Soft Corruption, Not So Soft
That poll was taken before 60 Minutes aired its story about semi-legal, definitely unethical Congressional insider trading, which is what Palin chose to write about in today’s Wall Street Journal. Nine percent might seem like a high approval rating next month.
For those unfamiliar, on Sunday 60 Minutes aired a feature about “soft corruption” — which is a generous term — in Washington, specifically the ways that lawmakers can skirt insider trading laws and profit off of private information they gather while performing their duties. Because of subtleties in the law, members of Congress are not subject to insider trading prosecution for acting on private, market-moving information.
Perhaps the most egregious example of this was Alabama Representative Spencer Bachus, who was briefed on the looming financial collapse in a closed-door meeting with Bush administration Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in September of 2008. It appears that Rep. Bachus, based on information received in this meeting, invested in positions that shorted the market, and made a handsome profit once the market tanked, while thousands of Americans lost their homes, retirement savings, etc.
You should probably sit down for this one: Rep. Bachus the chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services.
Palin Pens a Winner?
Riding the wave of outrage over this story, Palin took Washington insiders to task in her typical fashion, but in a way that is wholly more agreeable than you might be accustomed to. Perhaps it’s because she curtailed the put-on folksiness that characterizes her public persona, or maybe it was because her outrage seemed more honest, but this op-ed was hard to find offensive.
“How do politicians who arrive in Washington, D.C. as men and women of modest means leave as millionaires? How do they miraculously accumulate wealth at a rate faster than the rest of us?” she writes. “How do politicians’ stock portfolios outperform even the best hedge-fund managers’?”
She goes on to defend her record on her half-term as Alaska governor, and accuse congresspeople of taking advantage of their access to tax dollars, both of which are somewhat spurious claims. But she does offer some real policy proposals, all of which are completely reasonable, and surprising given Palin’s tendency to focus on platitudes and fluff.
Specifically she asks that regulators change the rules so that our lawmakers are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests like everyone else in government, that they make financial disclosures more frequently, and that they be subject to all private sector investing rules “including whistleblower, conflict-of-interest and insider-trading laws.”
She goes on to make some sloppy metaphor about how Congress has been occupying Wall Street all along, but we can forgive her for that. Sarah Palin has written — or someone has written for Sarah Palin, as Sarah Palin — something we can all agree on unless we are profiteering lawmakers, which is a strange thing to say about anything that comes from the desk of the most divisive figure in American politics.
It goes to show that while the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement come from completely different ideological backgrounds, these grassroots movements against government and corporate collusion have at least a bit of common ground. If the two groups can agree with Sarah Palin, what else could they agree on?