Over a month ago, we posted about Congressman Walz's support for legislation to prevent members of congress and their staff from profiting from "insider" information. The Post Bulletin and other venues picked up on it. The Washington Independent notes that watchdog groups are picking up on the bill in A Congress of Inside Traders?:
You might think that members of Congress and their staffs would be prohibited from using their privileged access to nonpublic information to cash in on Wall Street. But you’d be wrong.
Congressional insider trading is not, in fact, illegal. In a letter to lawmakers today, several watchdogs groups offer explanation:
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) does not have the authority to hold employees of Congress or the Executive Branch liable for using non-public information gained from official proceedings for insider trading. Under current law, ‘insider trading’ is defined as the buying or selling of securities or commodities based on non-public information in violation of confidentiality — either to the issuing company or the source of information. Most federal officials and employees do not owe a duty of confidentiality to the federal government and thus are not liable for insider trading.
The letter — signed by Public Citizen, Democracy 21, Common Cause, U.S. PIRG and the League of Women Voters — was drafted in support of legislation to prohibit congressional and White House insider trading. Introduced in January by Democratic Reps. Brian Baird (Wash.), Louise Slaughter (N.Y.) and Tim Walz (Minn.), the bill would prevent policymakers from profiting from their access to nonpublic information. At the time of the unveiling, Baird pointed to a 2004 Georgia State University study indicating that investments made by members of Congress return 25 percent more than those made by other Americans.
Read the whole article at the Washington Independent. Closer to home, KEYC-TV reports in Walz Office Flooded With Stimulus Requests:
. . .Salsbery wants to encourage Congressman Walz's constituents to call with any questions, because in a thousand page document, it's easy for things to get overlooked.Meredith Salsbery says, "The recovery package also includes a one-time payment of 250 dollars to people who receive social security disability or veterans disability - a lot of them don't know about that."The checks are expected to arrive in May and June. . . .
Sadly, the Senate's reluctance to include money for school construction has left the Rushford-Peterson district out, the Rochester Post Bulletin reports in No construction funding for Rushford-Peterson included in stimulus bill:
The school district had hoped to receive some money to build a $25 million replacement for its century-old high school, but the money wasn't included in the final stimulus bill.
Superintendent Chuck Ehler had traveled to Washington, D.C., with 1st District Rep. Tim Walz last week to lobby federal education officials for funding, but no money was set aside for new school construction.
"It's a little disheartening, but we are hopeful that our new school initiative will move forward," Ehler said. "We're not real optimistic about the stimulus funds, but we'll explore other avenues."
Ehler said when the House and Senate met, they had to compromise and the Senate advocated for the removal of new construction funding. . . .
According to the New Ulm Journal, Stimulus funds go to roads, bridges rather than the local short line rail, but Senator Klobuchar and Cognressman Walz are working on securing other federal funds to assist the rail rehab:
On Feb. 26, Minnesota House File 660, authored by Morrow, appropriated $10 million in bond proceeds for a grant to the Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority (MVRRA) to rehabilitate track.
He added that a separate pot of money will be available for nationwide rail projects.
Morrow said Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Congressman Tim Walz helped appropriate $950,000 in federal railroad improvement funding.
He said his office expects to receive federal guidance on funding criteria and application procedures in the next few months.
The project is already attracting businesses to the area. According to the article, Land O' Lakes will be building an 80,000-square foot distribution facility in Winthrop.
Not all job losses are cuased by cuts; some are triggered by off-shoring work. In Moving to China?, KTTC looks at the corporation's transfer of jobs to other countries:
In the last month, hundreds of high-paying jobs have been slashed at IBM/Rochester. Tonight, how jobs with very similar descriptions are now popping up a half a world away. In places like China, India, and Brazil.
IBM stands for International Business Machines, and IBM has facilities around the globe.
So it should be no surprise that a world-wide company would come up with something it calls "Project Match."
It's a program that offers those recently laid-off in Rochester and other U.S. sites a chance at jobs opening up in countries that have developing markets. . . .
. . .If you would leave IBM Rochester to go to IBM China, you would be paid at the IBM China rate.
"It's a real concern. We're not opposed to trade but one of the problems we see in this country is that if we have a race to the bottom on wages, we aren't going to beat the Chinese to the bottom. They're going to continue to undercut us," said U.S. Representative Tim Walz.
"It's the job you thought you would retire from but now have lost," said President Barack Obama.
President Barack Obama addressed the issue of offshoring jobs in his address to Congress, promising to restore a sense of fairness and balance to the tax code by ending tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas.
It's certainly not illegal for a company like IBM to bulk up its work force in China or Brazil, but it might seem like the "end of the world" if you've lived and worked at IBM Rochester for decades and then suddenly see your job popping up on the other side of the globe.. . .
Read the whole article at the station's web site. We'll be back later with part two of the news digest.