Insider trading bill may scrutinize Obama administration
February 1st, 2012
02:16 PM ET

Insider trading bill may scrutinize Obama administration

Washington (CNN) - The president will not oppose a Republican-proposed change to the STOCK Act (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge), a senior administration official tells CNN. The bill would make clear that insider trading of stocks and other securities by members of Congress, their spouses and staffs are illegal.

Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) are pushing for the bill to apply to the executive branch as well.

"Insider trading by members of Congress is unacceptable, and the public needs to know that the same rules apply to elected officials as everyone else," Cantor said Monday after the STOCK Act cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate with a vote of 93 to 2.

The senior administration official voiced skepticism that Cantor's backing is anything but cover for his putting the brakes on the bill in December, arguing that the executive branch is already covered by current law to prevent insider trading by government officials.

House Financial Services Committee chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL), who was featured in a CBS News 60 Minutes segment about stock trading by members of Congress, acted to move the bill quickly through his committee in December but Cantor asked him to postpone the process known as a mark-up, according to multiple sources, citing bipartisan concerns about the bill.

As the White House questions the need for including oversight of the executive branch in the STOCK Act, the top Democrat in the Senate thinks the change should be made. "I also think it's important that the executive branch of government play by the same rules so what we do here the executive branch of government should do also," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Tuesday, echoing what Republicans are saying.

"Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress; I will sign it tomorrow," President Obama, who has made a practice in recent months of taking shots at congress, said last week in his State of the Union address. "Let’s limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact."

While Republicans and Democrats agree the executive branch should also be scrutinized, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested the likelihood of wrongdoing was greater among administration officials than members of Congress.

"Most of our members believe that if there is any insider trading going on in the government, most likely that would be in the executive branch and we want to make sure that this new law applies equally to both," McConnell said Tuesday.

Topics: Congress • President Obama • The News
Boehner knocks Obama’s new housing proposal
February 1st, 2012
01:25 PM ET

Boehner knocks Obama’s new housing proposal

Washington (CNN) – House Speaker John Boehner is expressing skepticism about President Obama’s latest plan to lift the country’s housing market, suggesting government programs designed to help mortgage holders have long proven ineffective.

“We've done this at least four times where there's some new government program to help homeowners who have trouble with their mortgages,” Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday. “None of these programs have worked and I don't know why anyone would think that this next idea's going to work and all they've done is delay the clearing of the market. “

The comments came shortly before the president unveiled a new proposal that the administration says would allow millions of homeowners to refinance their mortgages at a lower rate, saving the average family $3,000 a year.

Specifically, the president is calling on Congress to pass legislation mandating banks allow homeowners to refinance even if their current home value has fallen below what they owe on their mortgage. Currently, most banks do not permit so-called underwater homeowners to refinance, even if there is a history of good credit and timely payments.

The cost of the president’s new proposal is expected to be between $5-$10 billion according to administration estimates. It will be paid for by exacting a fee on the nation’s largest financial institutions – likely a nonstarter with Congressional Republicans who have rejected previous attempts to levy fees on the big banks.

Topics: President Obama • The News
Morning Briefing:  February 1, 2012
February 1st, 2012
08:55 AM ET

Morning Briefing: February 1, 2012

The 1600 Report's daily roundup of what the White House is reading this morning online and in the papers:

Iran willing to attack on U.S. soil (WashPost)

Impass at UN on Syria violence (BCC)

Romney claims victory in Florida, builds new momentum (CNN)

Facebook readies for blockbuster IPO (CNNMoney)

Jackpot everyone's a winner, almost (NYT)

February 1st, 2012
07:59 AM ET

POTUS talks about homeowners today

President Obama will speak  in Falls Church, Virginia on the economy. He’ll be speaking at the James Lee Community Center and he’ll touch on parts of his new housing plan.  In Tuesday’s briefing, White House Press Secretary wouldn’t get ahead of the president’s remarks but said Mr. Obama would talk about his proposal “to make universal the potential for homeowners who are responsible and making their mortgage payments to be able to refinance their loans and save on average I believe $3,000 annually.”


9:30AM          Pool Call Time     

10:00AM        THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing Oval Office   Closed Press

11:00AM        THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks on the economy at the James Lee Community Center   Falls Church, Virginia  Open Press

12:00PM        THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors  Oval Office  Closed Press    

TBA Carney Briefing    

Topics: Daily Schedule • Economy