Thanks to the sensational revelations from Hoover’s Peter Schweizer on 60 Minutes and elsewhere, the public is now aware of the uncanny investment success that members of the U.S. Congress enjoy when they personally bet on the stocks of companies with business in the capital. But is it lawful for them to be trading on inside information? I take up that question in my new Cato at Liberty post. More: Bainbridge, Stoll, @AndrewBreitbart.
Hans Von Spakovsky’s write-up (complete with Schools for Misrule mention, for which thanks) sums up the event: “Leahy stacks hearing, still loses.” More: Adler, Kendrick, Bader, Pincus, Richer/Kendrick, Stoll.
Even using the powers it has on the books now, according to one expert, the Food and Drug Administration could largely shut down the making of artisanal farmhouse cheese if it chose. This week the Senate will consider the Food Safety Modernization Act, which will put much more power in the agency’s hands and greatly ramp up regulatory and paperwork requirements for producers, though (in a welcome improvement) the new Senate version of the legislation does at least nod more toward the principle of “tiering” burdens for smaller local producers. Meanwhile, some press outlets continue to pretend that the only real debate is between do-nothing lawmakers who don’t care whether Americans die of food poisoning, and more interventionist lawmakers who are trying to keep that from happening. I’ve got a fuller report on the politics of the food bill — and of the lame duck Congress more generally — at Cato at Liberty.
More: Bill advances toward expected Senate floor vote Tuesday [WaPo]. The Daily Caller reports on continuing small-farmer concerns, and recalls a raw-milk raid; David Frum wonders about elitism and its taint; Michelle Malkin questions the lame-duck railroad (& thanks to both of the last two for kind links).
Carter at Point of Law compiles a list of mostly-bad bills Congress left town without passing [parts one and two] One very worrisome law of this sort, the we-sue-the-world Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act (FMLAA), is the subject of a new policy analysis by my Cato Institute colleagues Daniel Griswold and Sallie James (it’s the sort of aggressive trade restriction that could touch off major retaliation, not to mention its possible CPSIA-like effects on vintage dirtbike collectors; more background here, here, and here).
Unfortunately, two troublesome enactments — the food safety bill and the misnamed Paycheck Fairness Act — were teed up by Majority Leader Harry Reid for possible expedited passage in the lame duck session.
In his wrapup post at Point of Law, Jim Copland summarizes pending legislation — much of it sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) — aimed at “loosening pleading standards, expanding securities litigation, rolling back federal preemption, limiting private arbitration, and cutting taxes on plaintiffs’ litigation.”
My Manhattan Institute colleague Jim Copland has an op-ed today in the WSJ explaining how current campaign finance rules magnify the influence of trial lawyers, as through the favored status of “bundling”. Excerpt:
Over the current six-year senatorial election cycle, four of the top seven donors to the campaign committee and leadership PAC of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) were plaintiffs firms. Plaintiffs firms were the top two donors to Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.).
The first piece of legislation signed by President Obama—the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 — gutted statutes of limitation in employment lawsuits. The first legislative triumph for new Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.), an amendment to the defense appropriations bill, foreclosed employment arbitration clauses for federal contractors.
More from Jim at Point of Law, including a mention of Trial Lawyers, Inc.: K Street–A Report on the Litigation Lobby 2010, the newest installment in the Trial Lawyers, Inc. series, which will be available later today here.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a perennial bete noire around here, is considered likely to announce for the seat.
P.S. More on Blumenthal’s record here, and welcome Professor Bainbridge readers.