Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Barney's Kangaroo Court

So Barney Frank held another show hearing yesterday. This time, he gaveled in a hearing on the collapse of Lehman Bros. Because only by looking backwards can the Congress move forward. Given that there is now the bankruptcy auditor's report on Lehman, I had to wonder what the point was. After all, Richard "I know nothing" Fuld wasn't going to say anything of any significance given that he faces civil and - hopefully - criminal prosecutions.

Also featured in yesterday's waste of time and money were the three regulators who were supposed to know what was going on. They would be the ever incapable Bernanke, Geithner and Schapiro. And they could not be expected to have anything new or useful either. After all, they exist solely to protect their phony baloney jobs.

So what was the point?

Well, after 2 rounds of speeches disguised as questions it became obvious. Barney wanted another round of partisan finger pointing and sniping. The phrase "members on the other side if the aisle" was more common than any other. Not one member of the committee failed to jab at the other side of the aisle.

In the meantime, while the feckless members of Congress on the dais proceeded in their all too common partisan slap-fest, the 3 failed regulators got another free pass courtesy of Barney and company. In their testimony, none of those 3 took any responsibility or even attempted to point out their own agencies' failures. Looking at them, they resembled nothing more than one of those goofy "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" posters.

Bernanke claimed to know nothing. Geithner claimed to lack the authority and Schapiro claimed to have no regulations. All of which struck me as odd given the civil prosecution of Goldman.

By all accounts, Lehman cooked the books on a quarterly basis to hide their true financial condition. This was the "Repo 105" method where they transferred their debt off balance sheet to another company set up specifically for this and then brought it back after the quarterly reports were done. This is exactly what sent Enron execs to jail.

Yet, the 3 regulators claimed no authority to deal with it. In fact, today, Schapiro had the audacity to propose even more regulation to prevent what is already an obvious fraud. She seems to think that the existing regulations do not prohibit this, even though they clearly do prevent it.

And all of that said, I am stuck wondering which was the worst part of yesterday's episode of the Barney Frank show. The total shirking of responsibility by Bernanke, Geithner and Schapiro or the endless partisan sniping by the committee. If I have to choose, it is going to be the partisan sniping.

"The other side of the aisle" is a meaningless phrase when discussing events that affected all Americans. It is a waste and a travesty when discussing a large part of the cause of the economic mess we find ourselves in. See, recession and unemployment have no party affiliation. They hit Democrats and Republicans equally hard. All Americans are paying for this mess.

Yet, the Congress cannot seem to put the partisan nonsense aside and actually do their jobs. Jobs that they, unlike millions of good hard working Americans, still have.

So while the 3 failed regulators are a problem, it is the Congress from which the real problem arises. It is the endless partisan needling that paralyzes any recovery. It is the constant finger pointing and insult hurling that prevents any serious growth.

Come November, it is time to lay off all of them. Every Member of Congress that is running needs to be unemployed. At the very least, we will create 435 new jobs.

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