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GameStop frenzy has Washington teasing action on Reddit vs. Wall Street

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A number of Democrats and Republicans united in opposition this week to the strict limits imposed by Robinhood and other online stock brokerages on the purchasing of GameStop and other stocks swept up in a Reddit-fueled trading frenzy.

Disparate members of Congress like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ro Khanna, D-Calif., Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Ken Buck, R-Colo., and Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, were among those who criticized the move, with many calling for hearings that Democratic leaders say will soon take place in both the House and Senate as what began as an internet movement continues to roil Wall Street.

Lawmakers trained attention on the volatility surrounding GameStop’s stock as several others this week. The stock climbed from $4 only a few months ago to more than $400 this week, juiced by an online movement not dissimilar to others that have broadly altered the political landscape in recent years. At the same time, hedge funds that made large bets on GameStop’s stock cratering — known as “shorting” — began to pile up big losses. Then the brokerages instituted limits, leading to charges of collusion with the larger financial entities facing big losses.

Robinhood’s co-founder, Vladimir Tenev, said hours after the change that it had no choice but to limit the stocks as it and its peers were forced by obligations imposed by federal regulators. The decision “was not made on the direction of any market maker we route to or other market participants,” he said, adding that notions to the contrary amounted to “misinformation.”

Jan. 29, 202101:19

For both progressive and more conservative members, there was a sense that the nation was watching a populist insurgency win out, however temporarily, against a so-called rigged system. Yet there is not broad consensus on policy goals to pursue in response to the brokerages limiting the ability for users to trade in the handful of stocks.

“There’s clearly bipartisan concern,” Michael Steel, a former spokesman to then-House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told NBC News. “I think the question is whether there are effective public policy changes that make sense and would make a difference.”

For the left, the restrictions were viewed as further evidence of Wall Street malfeasance, prompting demands for greater regulation. On the right, lawmakers decried the limits as flouting the free market, while comparing the curtailment to other claims of big tech “censorship.”

That dynamic — surface-level agreement that gives way to existing partisan divides — mirrors the partisan gaps in other areas in which the parties have found some shared gripes, most notably with the major U.S. tech companies.

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and incoming Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said their committees would both soon hold hearings to address the ordeal. Democrats and progressives also said the episode makes confirmation of President Joe Biden’s selection for Securities and Exchange Commission chair, Gary Gensler, all the more pressing.

“Bipartisan support for an investigation is good, but at the end of the day, if you believe someone like Ted Cruz will actually stand up to Wall Street, I have a GameStop short position I’d like to sell you,” said Tim Hogan, a Democratic consultant and former spokesperson for Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s presidential campaign.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., one of the leading Democrats on issues of financial regulation, wrote to the SEC’s acting commissioner on Friday questioning the extent to which a combination of large investors and online message boards affected the fluctuation of GameStop’s stock, if any of those practices ran afoul of existing laws, and if the “wild swings” in GameStop and other companies’ value “present any systemic concerns for financial systems or the stock market?”

“There are rich people on both sides of this, people who are trying, it appears, to manipulate this market,” Warren told CNBC on Thursday. “And that’s what we don’t know the details of.”

Like many of the forces shaping American politics in recent years, the Reddit forum, r/WallStreetBets — which describes itself as “Like 4chan found a Bloomberg Terminal” and is credited with originating much of the trading frenzy — sells the idea of the little guy taking on the big establishment. Amid a pandemic that has triggered a surge in retail trading, its audience has grown substantially in recent months.

“You know something is about to go down when most members of Congress are United over Wall Street trying” to abuse us, one user wrote Thursday, linking to a tweet from Lieu. Another wrote about how he was not particularly moved into entering the GameStop trade until it “morphed into a class movement.”

“I’m a big populist and think we need big changes in this country, especially a transfer of wealth and power from the elites to the people,” the user wrote. “When this morphed into a class movement I became obsessed.”

The wild ascension of the GameStop traders has been cheered on by some of the world’s wealthiest individuals, like Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the Winklevoss twins. Former President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has also sought to cast himself as an ally of the Redditors.

Andy Surabian, a Republican strategist, said people are “probably underestimating how big of a moment this was,” adding the episode likely “did more to hurt Big Tech in the eyes of people who weren’t already gunning for them, than anything I’ve seen in recent history.”

Appearing to sense a shift in political winds, Robinhood listed a job Friday for a “Federal Affairs Manager” to “focus on federal advocacy and government affairs” dealing with laws and regulations.

“The job listing doesn’t mention this, but you’ll also get to know the House Financial Services Committee,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., tweeted, along with a crying-laughing emoji.

Source:- NBC News

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Politics This Morning: Kenney resigns – The Hill Times

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The government says it plans to appeal the May 10 Alberta Court of Appeal decision that found the Impact Assessment Act is unconstitutional because it infringes on provincial jurisdiction.
Liberal MP Michael Coteau predicts that Ontarians will vote Liberal in tight Liberal-NDP races in order to oust the Ford government.
Fearing Russian aggression, Finland and Sweden will likely apply for NATO membership. While Canada supports the membership of these countries, it needs to step up its own contributions, especially in the Arctic: experts.

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Opinion | Abortion and America’s Polarized Politics – The New York Times

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Damon Winter/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “How Roe Warped the Public,” by Ross Douthat (column, May 8):

Mr. Douthat argues that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was “an inflection point where the choices of elite liberalism actively pushed the Republic toward our current divisions,” but he ignores three glaring facts.

First, Roe v. Wade still aligns well with the American people’s best sense about the complexity of abortion: that it be safe, legal and rare. Second, it was deliberate decisions by conservative elites that weaponized minority opposition to abortion for their own goals. Third, it is the unyielding minority religious belief that personhood begins at the moment of conception that has been driving the divisive politics of abortion for decades.

Frederick Civian
Dedham, Mass.

To the Editor:

Ross Douthat lays the social divisions of this country at the feet of the liberal elites who foolishly made the mistake of codifying a constitutional right not specifically delineated in our Constitution. He overlooks the deliberate choice of abortion as a politically galvanizing issue by movement conservatives who, seeking to unite a party in disarray after the “Southern strategy” and Watergate, fixed on abortion as a standard to unite under.

Abortion was not originally a significant concern of evangelicals and was simply one tool they picked to create and sustain the quest for political control. Mr. Douthat, while thoughtful, is simply dead wrong on this one.

Andrew Mishkin
Portland, Maine

To the Editor:

Ross Douthat’s column about Roe was exceptionally brilliant. In an age when so much opinion content is designed to simplify complex issues, to create easy distillations that fit into previously established convictions, it takes courage to present issues with nuance and complexity and trust that readers will reward you for it.

Well done, Ross!

Ben Lincoln
Mount Desert Island, Maine

To the Editor:

I am a strongly pro-choice feminist, and I understand and respect the perspective of people who are opposed to abortion. However, opposition to abortion has taken on an element that is not pro-life. Not making an exception for instances of rape and incest suggests a lack of compassion, rather than reverence for life. Criminalizing and instigating vigilante injustice suggest not just lack of compassion, but also punishment and vindictiveness.

Where in this response is the love and mercy that are at the heart of the message of Jesus?

Berne Weiss
Estoril, Portugal

Bernardo Bagulho

To the Editor:

Running for Office to ‘Stop the Steal,’” by Barbara McQuade (Opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, May 15), should strike fear in the heart of every patriotic American.

Between now and November, honest Americans of every political stripe need to get the word out that Donald Trump is working frantically to elect “his” state legislators, secretaries of state and election officials who will replace the honest bipartisan ones who said there was no election fraud in 2020. His apparent goal is to have Trump electors tallied instead of legally chosen ones in what could be our last free election.

People need to be reminded how Mr. Trump attempted to cajole officials — even his own vice president — into overturning an honest election. Now he’s learned a better way to do it, and only the voters can prevent this electoral calamity and national tragedy.

Two years from now our democracy could be in as much danger as Ukraine’s is now, but without one missile being launched or one shot being fired.

Bobby Braddock
Nashville

Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Perils of 2 Ukraine War Endgames” (column, May 15):

Ross Douthat is right to envision these endgame scenarios. He fears that if the Ukrainian military (with U.S. weapons support) should come close to expelling the Russian forces, “nuclear escalation suddenly becomes more likely than it is right now.”

If the Russians should decide to end a protracted war with a tactical nuclear strike on Ukraine, the U.S. might be tempted to retaliate against Russia with its own nukes. Both sides have put the nuclear option back on the table.

Even short of World War III, a continuing military stalemate in the Donbas would likely have serious consequences: global grain shortages, starvation in poor countries and eventual upheavals and mass migration. U.S. arms aid would also come with high domestic costs, including the likely abandonment of needed social programs.

The U.S. and NATO should make the reduction of nuclear war risk a top priority. They should stop stoking the conflict with arms shipments. Instead, they should encourage Volodymyr Zelensky to engage in meaningful negotiations with Vladimir Putin, even if it means territorial concessions in the Donbas region.

President Biden’s objective should now be peace through diplomacy, not endless war through the continuing supply of weapons.

L. Michael Hager
Eastham, Mass.
The writer is co-founder and former director general of the International Development Law Organization.

Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times

To the Editor:

According to the F.B.I. expert who spoke to my synagogue on Sunday about how to survive an attack by an “active shooter,” we should not encourage mentally ill bigots by giving them heroes, that is, by naming other shooters they can emulate.

In other words, every time the news media repeats the shooter’s name, sick folks will have another person to admire. So stop saying those names. What is horrific to us is cool to them. Don’t name them.

Emily Farrell
Philadelphia

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‘A fine leader:’ Reaction to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney resigning after UCP review

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Wednesday he is stepping down as leader of the United Conservative Party after the party announced he had won a leadership review with just 51.4 per cent of votes. Here is some of the political reaction:

“He was a fine leader. He worked so hard for this province, uniting us Conservatives together back in 2016 and his heart was in this province. And now he’s gone. He’s going to do wonderful things with his life and his career, but it’s a loss to our party.” — Janis Nett, secretary of the United Conservative Party

“There are obviously many things about which we don’t agree, but that doesn’t negate the time and sacrifice that goes into taking on the role of Premier. The work is never easy. The days are long and often difficult, as I’m sure today is. I wish Jason the best.” — Alberta Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley

“I respect Jason’s decision. It’s going to be tough going forward for a little bit … but we need to unite as a party and we need to find a leader who can do that, because right now we are divided.” — Conrad van Hierden, constituency association president for Livingstone-Macleod

“No one understands political traditions and conventions more than Jason Kenney and I want to thank him for his decent and honourable concession.” — UCP MLA Brian Jean

“Thank you @jkenney for all your contributions. Through the challenges of the past two years and decades of public service, you’ve been a voice for Alberta and Albertans, and I wish you all the best in the years ahead.” — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“Thank you to my friend Premier @jkenney for everything you have done to unite Alberta conservative voters into a new party, defeat a destructive NDP government and lead Alberta through a very challenging time.” — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe

“@jkenney my friend, the people of this province owe you a debt of gratitude. You took a province economically ravaged by the NDP & turned it into a thriving place to live and work again. B/c of you less kids will leave our home for jobs somewhere else. I’m so proud of you.” — Former federal Progressive Conservative leader Rona Ambrose

“@jkenney has dedicated his career to serving the people of his province and country. Proud to call him a friend and colleague. Wishing him all the best in his next endeavours.” — Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson

“Sad tonite to see @jkenney step down. Under his leadership, Alta found a way thru dark times and is now better positioned to thrive than any other prov. Thx for your work PJK. You always tried to do the right thing not just the popular one. Canada is a better country bc of it.” — former B.C. premier Christy Clark

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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