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Wednesday Quick Hits

STOCK Act May Pass, Will be a Limpless Noodle

From Politico:

The problem is this: It’s inherently difficult to pursue insider-trading allegations, particularly against members of Congress. Lawmakers are constitutionally protected from certain legal actions. And many are skeptical that the STOCK Act, or Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, which explicitly bars lawmakers and congressional aides from insider trading – was even necessary in the first place.

“I think there are sufficient holes in the STOCK Act such [that] those who wish to circumvent it will do so,” said Jacob Frenkel, a former enforcement lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

What’s more, the bill’s most far-reaching provision — to regulate the the flowering industry of consultants who provide inside legislative knowledge to investors was stripped out by House Republicans. That prompted Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who’s been working on the legislation for years, to complain that the bill had been “hijacked” — a charge parroted by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

Frenkel, now an attorney at the law firm Shulman Rogers, said it would be difficult for investigators to determine what qualifies as nonpublic information — particularly information that constantly flows through the halls of Congress. The SEC has never prosecuted a member of Congress for insider trading.

“This looks to me like a public relations solution in search of a problem,” added Karl Groskaufmanis, an attorney at Fried Frank, specializing in securities enforcement and regulation.

That’s what happens when a bill only becomes a cause celebre after a piece on “60 Minutes.”

Another problem – The Securities and Exchange Commission was a creation of Congress (1935’s Security and Exchange Act), thus making its budget a creature of Congress.  There are immense concerns if future Congress’ don’t like the SEC snooping around, they can just cut enforcement for the STOCK Act from the SEC’s budget.

Fed Chair Bernanke – We’re Heading Towards a Fiscal Cliff

Gee, this all sounds so familiar.

Congress risks taking the economy over a “massive fiscal cliff,” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned lawmakers on Wednesday.

In remarks that hit Wall Street stock prices, the central bank boss suggested the economy could hit a serious roadblock if Congress allows the Bush tax rates and a payroll tax cut to expire and $1.2 trillion in spending cuts to be implemented simultaneously in January.

“Under current law, on Jan. 1, 2013, there’s going to be a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases,” Bernanke told the House Financial Services Committee. “I hope that Congress will look at that and figure out ways to achieve the same long-run fiscal improvement without having it all happen at one date.

“All those things are hitting on the same day, basically. It’s quite a big event.”

The tax hikes and spending cuts could knock GDP growth in 2013 down from 2.6 percent to 1 percent, according to Andrew Fieldhouse, a federal budget policy analyst with the liberal Economic Policy Institute .

“There is obviously a huge fiscal drag pending if Congress adheres to existing law,” he said.

Welcome to a world where it would appear that the government is so entrenched into the economy that any cut is seen as a threat to the economy.

Kudos the Hill for noting EPI as “liberal.”  All that’s missing is the disclaimer regarding it being almost “completely financed by labor unions.”

The Most Interesting Thing in Yesterday’s PPP Poll

I’m sort of indifferent to the horse race aspects, and differences, between both Rasmussen and PPP’s polls regarding “Walker vs. X,” what did interest me was this paragraph from PPP:

We looked at a couple different variations of the Democratic primary. We didn’t test Feingold in either because it seems pretty safe to say that if he decided to run he would coast to the nomination. If Tom Barrett ran he would be the strong front runner, pulling 45% to 18% for Kathleen Falk, 14% for Doug LaFollette, and 6% for Kathleen Vinehout. If he stayed out of the race Falk would be the leader among the most likely candidates, at 41% to 23% for LaFollette, and 13% for Vinehout.

If you have Falk as the union-designated candidate and she’s potentially gonna get clubbed by Barrett in a Democratic primary you have to wonder two things: 1) What are the unions thinking with a result like that? and 2) What’s going on behind the scenes to try to keep him from running?

More Irony Defined

A blog, in which members of it have been unsuccessfully trying to get my columns pulled at the Sun Prairie Star, has to go to a guy who leaves a comment at the Sun Prairie Star on my most recent column (which was pretty much the same thing Mike Nichols and Jim Wigderson wrote) to try to score points against me.

Better luck next time guys.

Steelers to Release Hines Ward

Not the way I ever anticipated him to end his career in Pittsburgh.

Hines Ward‘s constant, ear-to-ear smile tucked behind a black facemask has been a lasting image for Pittsburgh Steelers fans the past 14 seasons.

They won’t see it again.

At least, not in a black-and-gold uniform.

The franchise’s all-time leader in just about every meaningful receiving category will be released sometime in the next two weeks said president Art Rooney II on the team’s website on Wednesday.

“We had a conversation today with Hines Ward and informed him that we plan to release him of his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year,” Rooney said. “Hines has been an integral part of our success since we drafted him in 1998, and we will forever be grateful for what he has helped us achieve.”

A four-time Pro Bowl selection and MVP of the 2006 Super Bowl, Ward will finish his Steelers career with 1,000 catches, 12,083 yards and 85 receiving touchdowns. He helped Pittsburgh to three AFC championships and a pair of Super Bowl wins.

The only thing I could possibly equate the Steelers cutting Ward would be if the Packers ever cut Donald Driver.  Thankfully, that doesn’t seem like a possibility since Driver has indicated he’s likely to retire at the conclusion of his most recent contract.

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  • Actually, Driver getting the Ward treatment is a near-certainty as he’s due $1.5 million on the first day of training camp and ultimately $5 million if he sticks around for 2012.  Also, the last word was he was looking to still be playing in 2013, which would mean a new contract (or perhaps an extension of the current one as part of a restructuring, though the Packers would still be on the hook for $5 million, just over 2 years instead of 1).

  • PilotEricB

    Seems you’re incapable or unwilling to defend your voter ID column on the merits. Any writer – whether it be you, Mike Nichols, or Jim Wigderson – who declares “case closed” on Voter ID simply on the basis of a ~10% turnout minor primary election demonstrates an appallingly weak understanding of the issue.