Oversight

A weekly rundown of the latest efforts of lawmakers to scrutinize the actions of the executive branch.

•House Financial Services Committee (6/4/07) — Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) Monday released a letter he sent to President Bush urging an examination of private equity and hedge funds at the G8 summit.

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“The enormous growth of hedge funds and private equity funds poses a new challenge to our societies,” Frank wrote in the letter. “These alternative funds … are exempt from many of the regulations that apply to traditional collective investment schemes.”

Frank wants to “level the playing field” between these alternative funds and the traditional collective investment schemes.
He proposed in the letter that Bush increase transparency of these funds, uphold workers’ rights to collectively bargain and help to create an international task force to suggest other regulations in relation to international financial markets.

•House Ways and Means Committee (6/1/07) — Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) released a letter last week to Daniel Pearson, chairman of the U.S. International Trade Commission, requesting that he examine China’s trade practices and subsidization of manufacturing and other sectors.

“The size and persistent nature of [the U.S.] deficit raises serious questions about its causes, including to what extent the deficit is driven by government interventions in the Chinese economy,” Rangel wrote. “In particular, the People’s Republic of China maintains numerous policies, including subsidies, [that] appear to have a direct role in exacerbating the U.S.-China trade imbalance.”

Rangel urged Pearson to examine the role of the government interventions in promoting investment, employment and exports in the Chinese economy, and to give a detailed analysis of the causes of the U.S.-China trade imbalance.

•Senate Finance Committee: (5/25/07) — Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) wrote a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt expressing concern over the promotion of Medicare Advantage (MA) private plans. Rather than promoting these plans, Baucus said, the government should be regulating them.

Baucus wrote that Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) documents warned that “access to benefits is at stake if Medicare Advantage funding is cut,” but that this statement is misleading.