Today, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is out with the latest installment in the “Democrats are fucked if they don’t get more done before the midterms” genre, and this one throws shade at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
In a New York Times op-ed, Warren correctly notes that the party hasn’t kept many of the promises it made to voters during the 2020 campaign and that, frankly, voters won’t care if arcane Senate procedures like the filibuster and two annoying as fuck “Democratic” senators are the reasons why Democrats have hardly passed anything beyond covid relief bills. Warren writes, “To put it bluntly: if we fail to use the months remaining before the elections to deliver on more of our agenda, Democrats are headed toward big losses in the midterms.”
The first order of business, as Warren sees it, is showing voters that Democrats are serious about fighting corruption. And that starts at home, by banning members of Congress and their spouses from trading stocks, since lawmakers may have access to non-public information and also set policies affecting the companies. (Currently lawmakers only have to disclose purchases of stock, but the penalties are minimal and people routinely ignore the law.)
These conflicts of interest are not theoretical: Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga), for instance, dumped stocks after first learning about covid, but before the markets tanked, and Loeffler even bought shares in a telework software company. The senators literally profited off of a deadly global pandemic while downplaying the dangers of it to the public.
Pelosi, who officiated a wedding last Fall for a literal Getty heiress, has been, uh, squishy on this issue. Her husband owns stock in tech companies facing antitrust discussions, and she infamously told reporters in December that she opposed banning stock trades for members of Congress because “we’re a free market economy. They should be able to participate in that.”
After rightful blowback—including Democratic Senators Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Mark Kelly of Arizona introducing a Congressional stock-trading ban—Pelosi said this in late January: “I just don’t buy into it, but if members want to do that I’m okay with that.” Only in February did Pelosi endorse the concept, as long as it covered the judicial branch, too.
That brings us to today, when Warren wrote (emphasis mine):
Let’s begin with corruption. For years, Americans have identified corrupt government officials as a top concern. And they’re right: to tackle the urgent challenges we face—climate change, income inequality, systemic injustice—we must root out corruption. To start cleaning up government, members of Congress and their spouses shouldn’t be allowed to own or trade individual stocks, which the vast majority of voters support banning, according to multiple polls. Whether you’re a Republican senator or the Democratic speaker of the House, it is obvious to the American people that they should not be allowed to trade individual stocks and then vote on laws that affect those companies. I have the strongest plan and the only bipartisan bill in the Senate to get it done.
Just wiped a tear from my eye.