Stunning Statistics of the Week:
- Less than $1 million: Amount spent so far by Priorities USA, the Super PAC created by a former White House aide to support President Barack Obama’s re-election effort
- More than $20 million: The amount spent by American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, groups co-created by Republican strategist Karl Rove to promote GOP candidates
Insider trading bill picks up steam as groups call for reform
Seven good government groups are calling on Congress to prohibit lawmakers and their staffs from using insider information to make money in the stock market. A bill to do that is finally picking up steam in the wake of a recent 60 Minutes expose. The bill has languished for years, but now, lawmakers are leaping to co-sponsor it. Craig Holman of Public Citizen told USA Today, “this is a story that really resonates with a public that’s already upset with Congress.”
More large companies disclose political spending policies, but spending is still increasing
More large companies are disclosing their policies on political spending, but that spending is still increasing, according to a new report commissioned by the IRRC Institute and conducted by the Sustainable Investments Institute. Last year, S&P 500 companies spend $1.1 billion on politics.
Rep. Deutch’s constitutional amendment draws praise
Public Citizen enthusiastically applauds and endorses a constitutional amendment proposed by Rep. Ted Deutch(D-Fla.). It would comprehensively repair the damage done to our democracy by Citizens United, end corporate spending on elections and give Congress authority to adopt a sensible campaign finance system.
$805,000 spent – in just one week – to boost Huntsman
Our Destiny PAC has spent $805,000 – just since Monday – to help GOP presidential contender Jon Huntsman Jr. The Super PAC was formed by an executive at the Huntsman Corp., which was founded by the candidate’s father. The goal of the expenditure – which paid for ads in New Hampshire – is to boost the longshot candidate’s chances.
Written by Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s government affairs lobbyist, and Bartlett Naylor, Public Citizen’s financial policy advocate.
Applying the prohibition against illegal insider trading to members of Congress – shockingly, members of Congress and their staff are exempt from the law against insider trading – may come down to one leader: Rep. Spencer Bachus, chairman of the House financial services committee. Thursday, Bachus took a monumental step by announcing a hearing Dec. 6 on legislation to apply the insider trading laws to Congress where his own Wall Street transactions may be Exhibit A.
In response to allegations that Baucus may have used non-public information gleaned through congressional oversight for stock trades, the chairman released a letter Nov. 16 making several promising points. Chairman Bachus’ letter followed the publication of the book, “Throw them All Out,” by Peter Schweizer, and a related CBS “60 Minutes” broadcast.
First, the Alabama Republican wrote he did not profit from inside information. “The claim in the book is I shorted GE because I obtained ‘insider information’ that GE was having difficulty and its stock would likely go down. The truth is demonstrably the exact opposite,” he said. Shorting is a means of profiting from the decline of a stock price.
Second, the House leader most responsible for oversight of the agency that combats illegal insider trading stated that he has “a personal policy of not investing in financial companies under the jurisdiction of the Financial Services Committee.” In an interview, Bachus said he’s stopped trading in stocks when he became committee chairman.
Ten years ago, on Nov. 14, 2001, the member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO) gathered in Doha, Qatar, and adopted a declaration aiming to establish a balance between WTO pharmaceutical patent rules and public health. Patent-based drug monopolies and high prices keep lifesaving medicines out of the hands of millions of people who need them worldwide. WTO rules requiring developing countries to grant pharmaceutical patents have been subject to substantial criticism for favoring the multinational pharmaceutical companies. The Doha Declaration recognized countries’ rights to “promote access to medicines for all” and represented a significant victory for developing countries and global health.
Ever since, health advocates have worked to live up to Doha’s promise. Perhaps the most significant obstacle is the political and economic power of the patent-based pharmaceutical industry. This week marks the Doha Declaration’s 10th anniversary – and people everywhere who care about access to affordable medicines are fighting back.
Over the last 10 years, generic competition has reduced the price of basic HIV/AIDS treatment by 99 percent, from more than $10,000 per person per year to under $100 today. This has facilitated a global revolution in treatment access, with six million people in low and middle income countries on lifesaving medicines as a result.
Nevertheless, newer AIDS medicines are patent-protected, monopolized and vastly more expensive. The same is true of many newer medicines for non-communicable diseases, including cancer and heart disease. High prices force health agencies to make impossible choices about allocating scarce resources – and the global financial crisis has made matters worse. Patients pay the cost.