A majority of voters support banning members of Congress from trading stocks while in office, according to new polling by Data for Progress.
In a January survey of over 1,200 likely voters, 67 percent of respondents supported the ban. When presented with arguments for and against the proposal, that figure jumped to 74 percent, the poll found.
According to the survey results, voters from across the political spectrum are largely in agreement on the issue. Seventy-five percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents and 70 percent of Republicans supported a ban after hearing arguments in favor of the proposal. Overall, the issue won over the opposition by 55 points, with only 19 percent saying that they were either somewhat or strongly opposed to the idea.
The poll results are similar to another Data for Progress poll conducted in February and March of last year, which also found strong bipartisan support for the ban.
A Morning Consult/Politico poll released on Wednesday similarly found that a majority of voters are in favor of the proposal. Sixty-three percent of voters surveyed said that members of Congress shouldn’t be allowed to trade stocks; once again, support for such a proposal came from a bipartisan majority of voters.
These polls add onto a small mountain of polls that have yielded similar results in recent weeks; most Americans, it seems, agree that members of Congress shouldn’t be allowed to trade stocks.
Recently, some Democrats have been pushing for a stock trading ban for members of Congress. Last week, Senators Jon Ossoff (D-Georgia) and Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) introduced a bill that would compel lawmakers and their families to move their stock portfolio into a blind trust when they took office and divest from investments that couldn’t be put in the trust.
The bill’s introduction came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) rejected the idea of banning stock trading for lawmakers, saying, “we’re a free market economy.” Her comments sparked rage and kicked off the effort among Democrats to pursue the ban.
Pelosi is among the most active stock traders in Congress, and in 2020 gained an estimated $16.7 million with her husband, partly due to stock trading. She also consistently ranks among the richest members of Congress.
Other lawmakers have waged similar efforts to ban stock trading. Last year, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) introduced a bill that would not only bar members of Congress from trading stocks, but also other top federal officials like judges and Cabinet members. Passing such anti-corruption legislation “is a no-brainer,” she said at the time.
Lawmakers are privy to vast amounts of information that aren’t available to the public, which puts them at a distinct advantage when it comes to trading stocks. Trades made by senators who had advance notice of the impending economic turmoil at the beginning of the pandemic, for instance, have led to suspicions of insider trading. Other recent pandemic-related stock trading scandals at places like the Federal Reserve have also raised alarm bells, eroding public trust in lawmakers and their motivations.
Last year, reports found that members of Congress traded about $300 million of stocks in total, with over a hundred members making at least one active trade in 2021. Overall, Congress beat the market last year. Meanwhile, stock ownership among members of the public is falling as owning stock is increasingly becoming an activity available only to the rich.
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