On the latest episode of PolicyWise (S3, E12), host Demetria Wack welcomes Maria “Masha” Arzumanov to discuss the influence stock ownership, personal finances and lobbyists have on Congress.
Arzumanov, currently a policy associate at J-PAL North America, received her master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She shared that an estimated 40-50% of members of Congress own stock. “I’m really interested in how, basically, if you own stock, if that influenced the way that you voted on legislation that would impact not only your constituency, but basically everyone in America,” said Arzumanov.
She and Wack also discuss the origin of lobbyists and their rising power in today’s political climate, as well as steps that can be taken to lessen the influence of money and stockholding on legislation, such as blind trusts. Arzumanov discussed how change will be hard, saying, “America is just such a free market economy with a very deep ingrained sense of capitalist individualism and I kind of feel like any intrusion on that is not well received.”