Opinion

Why Blind Trusts For Members Of Congress Are A Ruse

By Lucas Kunce for RealClearPolitics

After getting called out for insider trading, members of Congress from both parties are offering up their latest shiny solution to their own corruption: Putting their millions in assets into so-called “blind trusts.”

Fake. Fake. Fake. Blind trusts don’t work. Common sense tells us why.

If my privately held coal company goes into a blind trust, am I just going to forget that I have that investment? Will I forget all about the Pfizer stock I stuffed into my blind trust during a pandemic when I’m making decisions that could impact the company’s bottom line? Or my millions of dollars in Facebook that went into a blind trust last year when I have to vote on whether to take action against that predatory social media platform?

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No. No. And no. But despite our better judgment, they expect us to just trust them. Again.

Just like we trusted them when they told us for two decades to keep giving them our sons and daughters and more than $2 trillion of our hard-earned money to build something real and lasting in Afghanistan. We all saw how that turned out.

I saw it firsthand as a Marine deployed twice to Afghanistan. But I’m sure it’s just coincidence that defense contractor stocks are among the most popular ones for members of Congress.

Just like when we trusted them to solve this very same issue of insider trading when they passed the STOCK Act of 2012. Now we know that 50-plus members of Congress have violated this law. Some were fined 200 bucks. Some had the penalty waived. In other words, it was all a ruse.

And now they’re at it again, with another dog and pony show: the blind trust. Here’s what Mitt Romney, currently the wealthiest senator (with a net worth of $250 million), had to say about blind trusts: “The blind trust is an age-old ruse, if you will. Which is to say, you can always tell a blind trust what it can and cannot do.”

Is it any wonder that no one trusts our institutions, particularly Congress, anymore? Their solution to the problem is to police themselves and to use a trick that their financially savviest member has already openly described as a ruse.

This isn’t hard: 76% of voters believe that lawmakers and their spouses have an “unfair advantage” in the stock market. That’s because they do. Lawmakers get access to information we don’t have, and they shouldn’t be able to use it to get richer. But when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about it (her husband owns tens of millions of dollars in stocks), she said she doesn’t see a problem because “we are a free market economy.”

In other words, “Let them eat cake.”

Serving in Congress shouldn’t be about getting richer; it should be about service. We ask our servicemen and women to give their lives for this country, yet we can’t demand that members of Congress do their jobs on behalf of the people who sent them there rather than on behalf of their own stock portfolios? The elites in Washington have the chance — a rare bipartisan opportunity — to start rebuilding trust again.

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To say: “Hey, there’s this bad thing we’ve been doing, so we’re going to actually stop it once and for all.”

Here’s how this should go: If elected to Congress, members must divest from all individual stocks. No “blind trust” loophole. It must be a legitimate divesting. If they want to invest in something, they should get U.S. Savings Bonds, which invests them in the long-term financial health of the country.

Or an I-bond, which is indexed to inflation. They would never fall behind or get ahead of where they started.

Members of Congress, their immediate families (spouses and children) and their senior staffers should be banned from owning or trading any individual stocks. If they break this law, they get thrown in jail. Just like I would. Just like you would. Just like Martha Stewart was.

That’s it. Plain and simple. But they won’t do it. All they’re willing to do is opt for a fake blind trust. And that’s why we have to fundamentally change who has power in this country.

Lucas Kunce is a 13-year Marine veteran who’s running for the open Senate seat in Missouri.

Syndicated with permission from Real Clear Wire.

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