Let us be the first American paper to come out against the measures working their way through Congress to curb the ability of members of the House and Senate to invest their own money in America’s capitalistic economy. We mention this because of a report that is running in Axios under the headline: “Pelosi buckles, pushes stock-trading ban.” The idea is to curb the bets our legislators are placing on American capitalism.
That, in our view, is about the last thing our country needs. We were awakened to it by one of the best columns we’ve run in the Sun in recent months — Larry Kudlow’s “The Queen of Stonks.” It was about how Mrs. Pelosi and her husband, Paul, have, as Mr. Kudlow summarized recent reports, “traded over $50 million in assets over the past year with annualized returns at 69 percent as of October, according to an estimate from the Nancy Pelosi portfolio tracker.”
What was so wonderful about Mr. Kudlow’s cable is that the way he summarized the top of it, his readers were expecting him to call for her to disgorge her profits or suffer some other humiliating punishment. Instead, he saluted her “trading acumen.” He hailed her as the “Gordon Gekko of the New York Stock Exchange,” adding that her investing acuity had surpassed that of Warren Buffett, the so-called “Oracle of Omaha.”
Plus, too, Mr. Kudlow reports, one website designated her “the 2021 Wall St. trader of the year.” So it’s a volte-face for Mrs. Pelosi to now embrace what Axios calls “harsh fines” for lawmakers and other officials who defy the proposed ban on stock trading. As recently as December, she was singing the praises of “a free-market economy” and telling the press that lawmakers “should be able to participate in that.”
Mrs. Pelosi — as astute a vote-counter as she is a stock-picker — has faced bipartisan pressure on the question. Senator Schumer already endorsed a ban on stock trades by legislators, saying he “would like to see it done.” The ban would amend a 2012 law, enacted to prevent lawmakers — and their staffs — from using for their “personal benefit” any “nonpublic information” obtained “from their official positions.”
That law, called the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge — or STOCK — Act, was also designed to promote wider disclosure of lawmakers’ trading activities, though the judiciary was largely excluded from its provisions. That may change if the law gets rewritten. The press has recently called attention to alleged financial conflicts in the judiciary, and legislation has been proposed for more reporting and “transparency” by judges.
In response to these legislative proposals, Chief Justice Roberts recently warned against trifling with the independence of the berobed sages. “The Judiciary’s power to manage its internal affairs,” he has written in respect of sentiments with which we agree, “insulates courts from inappropriate political influence and is crucial to preserving public trust in its work as a separate and coequal branch of government.”
Chief Justice Roberts’ caution may resonate if the legislation comes before the Supreme Court. The best thing would be for Mrs. Pelosi to drop her plan to shut out lawmakers and judges from the capitalist carnival of the financial markets — and take Mr. Kudlow’s suggestion to instead cut capital gains taxes. He says that would “create the grand opportunity for all Americans to get rich and benefit by superior stock-picking skills.”
Image: Speaker of the House Pelosi (detail). Rod Lamkey/Pool via AP.