Headline RoundupDecember 17th, 2021

Perspectives: Should Members of Congress Be Allowed to Buy and Sell Stocks?

AllSides Summary

This week, one of the most powerful lawmakers in the U.S. defended the right of congresspeople to trade stocks. Is her stance on point or off base?

When asked about the issue on Wednesday during a press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that "We’re a free market economy" and lawmakers "should be able to participate in that." Pelosi's own stock portfolio, which gained over $65 million in value between 2019 and 2021, has often been the subject of scrutiny. The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which was passed in 2012, is designed to combat insider trading by lawmakers, who many across the spectrum argue have too much access to inside information to be able to trade stocks ethically. In October, the Federal Reserve banned its officials from owning individual stocks. In March 2020, four senators were accused of insider trading and investigated by the Justice Department when they sold off stocks ahead of the COVID-19-induced economic downturn.

Voices across the spectrum, especially on the right but also on the left, criticized Pelosi's comments and questioned her position. Many argue that lawmakers since have access to information that the public does not, and because they also have the ability to write and pass policy, they shouldn't be allowed to buy and sell individual stocks and other assets. Some on the right highlighted silence from other progressives in response to Pelosi's statement despite their previous opposition to the practice.

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