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Our View: Why we need vigilance in D.C.

Posted: November 27, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: November 27, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Congressional approval ratings are in the single digits. Can’t get much lower than that, right?

Wrong! Yet another expose in the nation’s capital has established a new ethical bottom for Congress. It’s like watching an unrepentant drug addict: Just when you think their self-righteous delusional behavior cannot get more reprehensible, it does.

Single-digit approval ratings mean that if we voted our representatives out and chose a new Congress in similar fashion as we choose a jury, we would have an improved chance to restore public confidence and maybe some semblance of a moral compass in Congress.

One of the reasons for our current anti-Washington ire is the recent revelation that Congress had somehow exempted itself from insider trading laws, the violation of which could send any one of the rest of us to prison.

HR 1148 “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (Stock) Act” and a companion bill in the Senate are gaining bipartisan traction in Congress after languishing for years in committee because of insufficient sponsors.

The reason for the sudden change is a blockbuster book by Peter Schweizer called “Throw Them All Out.” Schweizer’s book exposes many members on both sides of the aisle who benefited financially from information that was learned in the course of their duties — information not available to the public.

A recent segment on CBS’s “60 Minutes” helped make the public outrage go viral.

The Signal does not endorse all of the allegations presented in these venues nor are we interested in pointing fingers at this representative or that representative.

Our issue is the cavalier pervasiveness with which Congress exempts itself from the rules, liabilities and benefits it prescribes for the rest of us. We have wondered out loud how it is that people can become millionaires working for the government.

According to a USA Today report, there are 250 millionaires in Congress and nearly  60 of them in the top 1 percent.

Perhaps insider trading is part of the answer to that question.

This corruption is not ideological. It is an ethical lapse that is witnessed on both sides of the aisle.

What are we to do, outside of voting out everyone in the Capitol?

A good place to start is with the unanimous passing of HR 1148. Additionally, we would call for an independent review of all the laws enacted for the people for which Congress has exempted itself.

The Signal’s nameplate says “Vigilance Forever.” Vigilant we must be in demanding and having honest government.

It is like the proverbial “pushing a big rock uphill.” If we stop just for a moment, it will surely roll right over us.


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