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Cantor Should Be Conflicted Out Of Debt Ceiling Talks

Cantor Should Be Conflicted Out Of Debt Ceiling Talks


This Supreme Court term has brought a lot of significant decisions and several, such as Wal-Mart v. Dukes have garnered the lion’s share of press attention.  But one that went relatively under-reported was a unanimous opinion that upheld ethics laws across the nation that prevent legislators and city councilmen from voting on matters in which they have a conflict of interest.

A Nevada high court decision had ruled that preventing legislators from voting (and giving floor speeches on) matters where they have a conflict violates the First Amendment rights of those legislators.  But, writing for the majority, Justice Scalia held that conflict-of-interest rules do not infringe on the free-speech rights of lawmakers.  In the past the Court has said that legislators do have constitutional rights so speak freely, but those rights do not allow them to vote on matters if they have a conflict of interest since the right to vote is not personal to the legislator but belongs to the people.

Why is this decision so significant?  Consider Eric Cantor’s position on the debt-ceiling increase.  Cantor famously walked out of negotiations on raising that limit, bringing the country closer to defaulting on its debt obligations and unable to do such things as issue social security benefits, for example.  But now it appears that Cantor is in a position to benefit financially should a default occur.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Cantor has between $1000 and $15,000 invested in ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury EFT.  This is a fund that “aggressively shorts” long-term Treasury bonds.  That means the fund performs well with the U.S. debt is undesirable.

If the debt ceiling does not get raised investors would start dumping Treasury bonds and Cantor’s investment would spike.  That means Cantor has a conflict of interest.  That conflict of interest, according to the Supreme Court, should prevent him from any vote on the increase of the debt ceiling — provided an ethics inquiry gets raised.

So the next obvious question is: when will the House bring such an ethics inquiry?


photo courtesy of Medill DC via Flickr

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9:31AM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

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Thank you!

2:58PM PDT on Jul 9, 2011

Republicans like him remind me of spoiled little children. If I can't have it or have it my way then I don't want to play anymore. Where was he when Bush raised the debt limit 7 times in 8 years??? 6.4 TRILLION DOLLARS BOUGHT ?????????????????????????????????????
Oh yes, he sent over 16 billion in cash to Irag that mysteriously disappeared. Now Iraq is going to sue the U.S.A. because they say it was their money from oil for food, etc. What a Country!!!
LET'S PUT REPUBLICANS IN CHARGE AGAIN SINCE THEY ARE SO CONSERVATIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7:15AM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

And I'm not asking any of you to say here that you have 401(ks),because that's none our business-you know who you are.

7:12AM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

Someone I respect very much is Johnathon Turley,Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of George Washington,especially when he contradicts one my suggestions,since he has much more expertese than I. In an interview yesterday he said that while the XIVth Amendment is clearly written on this matter,it's application by the President that has been suggested would probably have trouble in todays courts. So it the debt limit is still in Congress's hands,and my view is that the language in the XIV Amendment obligates Congress to raise it on time to meet the nations credit obligations. The IMF yesterday warned that failure by the Congress to do so "could result in a severe shock to the economy and the world financial markets." Now how many of you who have your future retirement invested in 401(Ks) want to see Congress risk that happening,simply so it can keep the super rich happy?

3:14AM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

A useful caveat to such free speech would be to declare your conflicting interests in the matter being discussed before you made a speech during this debate.

9:08PM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Supreme Court Justices should take their own opinion seriously and clean up their own house regarding ethics; and remove thensleves from conflict of interest cases.

8:38PM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Gee Diane, in TWO YEARS the Obama administration is supposed to have cured 8 years of Republicans and their unfettered spending under W-getting us into an unnecessary and EXPENSIVE war in Iraq, then allowing the greed mongers of Wall Street to run wild with no rules or constraints on endangering our economy, then W, et al constructedthe TARP bailout with NO STRINGS (remember Hank Paulson?-W's guy?) - which effectively gifted massive amounts of taxpayer money to banks that then had no impetus to work with homeowners who lost jobs thanks to Wall Street-and who then forced record foreclosures because with TARP, and no changes in rules for so long, they could PROFIT from tossing people out-oh, and while corporate America sat on huge profits - and still are- without hiring back all the folks they paid off, and big oil made record-breaking profits while gouging those now jobless Americans-without having to pay any taxes-but insisting on keeping the huge tax subsidy program those of s who DO pay taxes get the bill for-while the Republicans work to cut food for mothers and children and education-ignoring the HUGE number of children in this WEALHY NATION who are living in poverty... Well-you get my drift-you REALLY think it's two years under Obama that brought this to pass? I think maybe youve been drinking too much tea.

4:47PM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

wouldn't conspiring to implement the collapse of the economic infrastructure of the United States, and accepting money for doing so technically be considered treason ???? just asking, seems to me that his making money on this is WRONG..... isn't that like the captain of the team betting big bucks on the team to LOSE ??? If it were sports they would want to hang him...... because it is only 75% of the citizens chance at the American dream I guess it is okay for him to bet against us and hold the ball refusing to even let the rest of the team try to play.

4:37PM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

so they have figured out a way to make money by destroying the economy..... "If you don't let us give more money to the rich and cut more social programs we will force the country to default on it's debt and make a bundle in the process" good thing he has our interests at heart

2:17PM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

This sadistic pile of dung beetle excrement should be out of WA!!

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