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Monday
Mar092009

Bailout News CNBC Video: TARP's Powerless Oversight Czar, Elizabeth Warren Criticizes Geithner, Obama, Bush And Paulson

For newcomers, Harvard's Elizabeth Warren is the top COP (Congressional Oversight Panel) of TARP.  The problem is she has no real authority to do anything but make noise, write letters and issue updated reports.

Congress deserves our unrelenting disgust for having trusted criminal Hank Paulson so implicitly that they felt no need to attach powerful oversight to the greatest heist in our nation's history.  The superficial variety suited everyone swimmingly, and so it should be no surprise that we're now drowning.

Nice work, Pelosi, Frank and Reid as well as plenty of scared Republicans.  Paulson rolled onto the Hill last September and played you for the anxious lemmings that he knew you to be.  He left with $700 billion, no oversight and a devilish smile on his crooked visage.  Thanks for protecting taxpayers.

Warren issued her 3rd report last Friday and it was mostly un-noticed by the media. The link is to the 198 page PDF document in its entirely. For those looking for a great synopsis see this piece by Michael Crittenden of Dow Jones Newswires.

The most satisfying part of the report came in the appendix in an open letter to Treasury Secretary Geithner in which she again criticized TG and Obama for not answering even the most basic of questions related to the banking crisis. We have text of the letter plus more related links after the jump.

She explains in the letter to Treasury Secretary Geithner:

There are many questions that we believe must be addressed in coming weeks, but we ask you to focus your attention on one immediate issue. Treasury has not explained how its financial stabilization programs fit together to address the problems that caused this crisis. This failure to connect specific programs to a clear strategy aimed at the root causes of the crisis has produced uncertainty and drained your work of public support. Financial institutions, businesses, and consumers will not return to healthy investment in the economy if they fear that the federal government is careening from one crisis to another without an intelligible road map.

For these reasons, we ask that you provide answers to the following questions about Treasury’s current views and the approach outlined in the Administration’s recently-issued Financial Stability Plan. Please answer each question in detail and please indicate the economic or other evidence on which your each answer rests:

1. What do you believe the primary causes of the financial crisis to have been? Are those causes continuing? How does your overall strategy for using Treasury authority and taxpayer funds address those causes?

2. What is the best way to recapitalize the banking system? How does your answer relate to your assessment of the causes of the financial crisis?

3. What is your view of the economic status of the American consumer and the amount that constitutes a healthy debt burden for the consumer? The Consumer and Business Lending Initiative and elements of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan are designed to restart consumer purchases of homes and automobiles, but the success of these programs depends on the ability of consumers to absorb more debt. Has Treasury developed any data to determine whether consumers can shoulder the additional debt to power these initiatives?

In the end, Warren and the other COP members can get on CNBC and Fox and complain, issue reports and letters out the wazoo but Obama and Geithner, just as Bush and Paulson before them, have no requirement to listen or even to respond.  Well done Pelosi, well done.


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Reader Comments (6)

I love Elizabeth Warren! Great post.
Mar 9, 2009 at 8:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterspideydouble
This is the smartest person whom has any contact with DC. She ought to be President......Look at her work from 2006 on the destruction of the middle class. Google it....She is brilliant.
Mar 9, 2009 at 11:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAin't Bullshittin'
@Ain't Bullshittin'

I first saw her on PBS with Bill Moyers and then later on the Maxed Out documentary. All of my Harvard buddies tell me she was one of the better Profs there. I agree - she is probably the smartest person whom has any contact with DC. I certainly would have voted for her. Brilliant, but surprisingly down-to-earth too. You can see it in this interview.
Mar 10, 2009 at 1:14 AM | Unregistered Commenterspideydouble
I am just a country boy from GA and would NEVER have the opportunity to set foot on the Harvard Campus. I love the internet. Where else can a simple person hear such commentary and gain access to minds like hers? The knowledge and information on this crisis is out there and can be found, if one knows where to look. I am just amazed at her insight. When you step back from all the background noise and focus on the issue from a distance...you start to see trends that are camouflaged in the "talking points" put forth by the overwhelmingly biased media outlets. She takes no prisoners and hits hard on both sides of the aisle. We need more free thinkers that can see beyond the political agenda in this Country. Maybe then, we see some change we can not just believe in but put into action.
Mar 10, 2009 at 8:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterAin't Bullshittin'
Elizabeth Warren also featured on NPR's Fresh Air. Listen in at 20:16 for a damning summary of TARP and it's biased subsidies, or 'investment' in institutions:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101611260&ft=1&f=13

Why not just pick winner & loser banks? Instead of taxpayers being the only losers.
Mar 10, 2009 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterThink4aChange
@think4 a change

Good link on Warren. Thanks.
Mar 12, 2009 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterPuzo

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