This post by Jill Schlesinger originally appeared on CBS' MoneyWatch.com.
I haven't been a big fan of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Still, watching him provide testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform made me realize that there's something worse than a regulator who goofed - lawmakers grandstanding on their soap boxes about said goofs.
It was perhaps the only example of bipartisanship in Washington DC - Democrats and Republicans grilling Geithner. Here's a particularly brutal snippet from Representative John L. Mica, Republican of FL:
"I believe either you made a bad decision there, or there was the attempt to cover up one of the biggest bailouts, backdoor bailouts, in history ... Now, you've tried to frame it as you did it in the interest of the people and the failure of the system, I'm telling you, these are lame excuses. You were in the charge and did the wrong thing, or participated in the wrong thing."
Stephen F. Lynch, Democrat of MA chimed in (replete with wagging finger):
"I think the commitment to Goldman Sachs trumped the responsibility that our officials had to the American people ... It stinks to the high heavens what happened here ... I don't like the obfuscation. And to top it all off, the disclosure was not there."
Political theater aside, I just don't believe that Geithner was taking part in some secret Dan Brown-esque intrigue when he made these decisions. In the midst of a potential global economic meltdown, there were plenty of rash decisions that we all wish were handled more meticulously.
Here's a question for the angry folks in Congress: where were all of these "tough" questions when you were salivating over Alan Greenspan's testimony for all of those years? Who were the inquisitors who had the guts to question deregulation and expansion of Fannie and Freddie? Until Congress admits that there were lots guilty parties that allowed the crisis to emerge, it's just hard to take any of this kabuki seriously.
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