Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Ritual

A day after Geithner, it's the bankers turn
Banking leaders who benefited from a federal bailout are bringing a message of accommodation and gratitude to Congress, hoping for a better reception than the one given Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The eight chief executives nevertheless will likely hear plenty of skepticism Wednesday morning when they take seats at a witness table in the Rayburn House Office Building. It will be the first such examination by lawmakers since they passed the bailout bill last year. The CEOS will be quizzed aggressively on how they have used more than $160 billion in taxpayers' money.

In prepared testimony, the banking industry leaders applauded the program for making more loans available and promised to pay their share of the money back to the Treasury over time. Anticipating confrontations over their own compensation, several asserted that none of the government's money went to bonuses or dividends.
Ah yes, the ancient Washington ritual: the Congressional hearing. Where CEO's pretend to be scared and grateful and lawmakers pretend to be angry, concerned, and feign an understanding of the situation. Then everyone returns to their nest and does the exact same thing they've been doing for months. Democrats bitch about the cost and then go back to voting them money. Republicans bitch about the corporate culture then have aneurysms when so much as a single regulation is suggested. CEO's pretend to be grateful then go back and nail their secretary on a pile of bailout cash while bitching that Washington had the nerve to ask them about how the billions were used.

Nothing will change because of this hearing, no one will learn anything, nothing will be tweaked or perfected or eliminated. But the media does get a 20 second news clip of our elected betters going "You ought to be ashamed!", "What were you thinking?", and the hoary old "The American taxpayers deserve better from you!". Not a bad deal for the CEO's: sit down, take heat, walk away with $350 billion and a glass of free water. I'm sure it'll be enlightening. Let's just hope none of them flew down in a solid gold private jet they just bought, I don't want to hear the media pretend to care about that for a week.

No comments: