Salon has just published a scathing report on Eric Cantor, and it won't surprise any of you. Apparently, he has invested in a mutual fund that shorts long-term US treasury bonds "meaning that it performs well when U.S. debt is undesirable. (A short is when the trader hopes to profit from the decline in the value of an asset.)"
Well, blow me over with a feather.
Remember last week, when Cantor pulled out of negotiations with party leaders, including VP Biden? His departure wasn't because he has a huge conflict of interest looming over his leadership position in the debt ceiling negotiations. No, it was because
“As it stands, the Democrats continue to insist that any deal must include tax increases,’’ Cantor said in a statement. “There is not support in the House for a tax increase, and I don’t believe now is the time to raise taxes in light of our current economic situation. Regardless of the progress that has been made, the tax issue must be resolved before discussions can continue.’’
The Boston Globe reports:
The breakdown was set off by the surprise decision of Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader and one of two Republicans participating in sessions led by Vice President Joe Biden, to quit the negotiations. This week’s talks were considered crucial as the Aug. 2 deadline for an increase in federal borrowing authority nears.(Emphasis mine)
According to Salon, the Wall Street Journal actually practiced journalism last year when they reported Rep. Cantor had invested between $1,000-$15,000 in ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury EFT. Salon links to this Washington Wire cut and paste from the subscription only WSJ: By Susan Davis
Putting his money where his mouth is? Eric Cantor, the Republican Whip in the House of Representatives, bought up to $15,000 in shares of ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury ETF last December, according to his 2009 financial disclosure statement. The exchange-traded fund takes a short position in long-dated government bonds. In effect, it is a bet against U.S. government bonds—and perhaps on inflation in the future.
That's convenient for one of only two Republicans negotiating on the debt ceiling. The other Republican, John Kyl from Arizona
the number two Republican in the Senate...said later in the day that he would also skip the next negotiating session as he and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, turned up the pressure on President Obama to play a larger role in the push for a debt limit deal.(Same link).
Turns out, this isn't the first time Rep. Cantor had a conflict of interest while either in negotiations or in supporting legislation. (What else is new with Congress?) He had personal holdings in mortgage banks while opposing any forclosure fixes.
Cantor is personally invested heavily into the mortgage industry. According to reporter Neil Simon, Cantor’s “personal ties to the mortgage industry helped play a leading role” in his decision to vote for the bank bailouts of 2008. For instance, before going to Congress, Cantor handled real estate law at his family’s law firm, and continues to own between a $250,000 to $500,000 stake in TrustMor Mortgage, a mortgage brokerage he opened in 1996. According to Cantor’s latest personal finance disclosure, Cantor still earns $5,000 to $15,000 in income from his TrustMor business stake.
...However, most Republicans have balked at any attempt to seriously respond to the banks’ fraudulent foreclosures. In particular, House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) said last Sunday that he opposed any efforts to expand a moratorium on foreclosures. “Now, come on, people have to take responsibility for themselves,” said Cantor, adding, “We don’t need government intervening in every step of every aspect of this economy.”(Same link)
Rep. Cantor's wife Diane Cantor is also implicated in mortgage foreclosure conflict of interest, as she
serves as the managing director of a bank recently reported to have one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. Diane Cantor leads New York Private Bank & Trust, which is among the top three banks in the mortgage business “with the the greatest percentage of family loans in the foreclosure process, according to SNL Financial.” New York Private Bank & Trust, a TARP recipient that has not paid back the taxpayer, is also a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.(Same link) In other words, the Cantor's actually are being enriched by voting for, and perpetuating, foreclosures. Not only that, but as his wife's bank was bailed out by TARP, Cantor continually spoke out against TARP and voted against it.
This Thursday, Cantor cast a high-profile vote opposing release of another $350 billion in bailout funds. Unpublicized until now was a recent development: The Treasury Department used $267 million of taxpayer funds to buy preferred stock in a private banking company that employs Cantor's wife.
The bailout for New York Private Bank and Trust (NYPBT) came earlier this month as part of a Treasury Department program to boost "healthy banks" with extra capital. NYPBT is the holding company for Emigrant Bank, a savings bank with 35 branches in and around New York City. Diana Cantor runs the Virginia branch of Emigrant's wealth-management division, called Virginia Private Bank & Trust, which targets an ultra-rich clientele.
Rob Collins, Cantor's deputy chief of staff, said the congressman didn't know the bank was seeking bailout money and never interceded on the bank's behalf with government regulators. He also said Cantor had never intended the bailout bill to be used to buy up stock in banks.
Yeah. Right. This type of malfeasance doesn't get reported, so why not lie through your teeth?
Would someone please start an online petition to get Cantor removed from the debt ceiling talks?
And, would a MSM teevee journalist please engage in honest political reporting instead of constant fluff pieces? Scott Pelley, I have hope in you...