I wrote a short piece last week in which I tried to remind Congress that we need to have hearings on the financial meltdown for obvious reasons:
Just a reminder.
I know we've asked for a Truth Commission on torture over and over again, but what about the financial catastrophe the world just experienced? When will hearings be held to uncover the facts that led us and the world to financial ruin? I know we have many basic facts of what happened, but when will an actual hearing take place? If nothing is officially uncovered then how can we stop another one from taking place?
Word is circulating in Washington that members for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission will be named this week.
The commission is supposed to resemble the 1930s Pecora commission that dug into the culprits behind the Great Depression and laid the groundwork for major bank reform. But that will only be true if the commission is run by aggressive seekers of truth, independent of the financial industry, willing to use their subpoena power, knowledgeable enough to have warned us of impeding crisis in the first place despite market cheerleading from the political and media establishments.
Speculation from Reuters last week on who might be named was not terribly encouraging, though most of the names floated clearly were coming from conservative circles, as Republican leaders will pick four of the 10 members.
Cut...OK, here's where we come in. Updated: No members of Congress can be on the commission, but
I think an Alan Grayson or Henry Waxman type would be good choices for the commission. . We do need a panel of brilliant minds that has real progressive representation, but what we also need are people that have an appreciation for the "dramatic." That is, they should know how to ask questions with their allotted time in such a way that it will be highly informative and entertaining at the same time. These are the moments that can really educate Americans, but the commission needs members that understand how to use their valuable time---not to pontificate---but to educate and uncover. And it needs to be riveting while getting to the truth of this mess.
Please ask Speaker Pelosi and Harry Reid to make sure they put together a great panel. Nancy was almost scheduled to do a live chat on C&L last week, but because of my family issues, we are rescheduling. However, I think if we let her know how strongly we feel about the new Pecora Commission and ensuring that progressives are solidly represented, she'll come through.
Harry Reid is another story. Here's Reid's office info, so please let him know too.
Please tell us who you would like to be on the Commission and I'll pass it on. Mike Lux likes economists Rob Johnson and Simon Johnson. A helping hand from Paul Krugman would be nice too.
Among the names leaked is just one person with the stature, expertise, and resolve to run a tough investigation (if she were chair)Brooksleyey Born ...
...On the Republican side, with one exception, the leaked names could be an alumni society of the people whose policies helped cause the collapse. The absolute howler in the list is former senator JakGarnrn of Utah, a tireless proponent of financial deregulation. Among other travestiesGarnrn sponsored thGarnrn-St. Germain Act of 1982, the law that allowed savings and loan associations to become speculators' playgrounds, and led directly to the S&L collapse.
Another proposed Republican is Bill Thomas, former chair of the House Ways and Means, a legislator who never met a financial special interest he didn't like; and former Republican Senator and presidential candidate Fred Thompson...
...The only other Democrat on Reuters' leaked list is former Florida senator and governor Bob Graham, a self-identified New Democrat who served on both the Senate Banking and Finance Committees. Missing, except for Born, are people with deep knowledge and informed criticism of the abuses that led to the crisis.
It does not have to be this way.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will be naming the commission members soon, most likely this week. Now is the time to let them know the type of person you want to have subpoena power on your behalf.
Please tell us who you'd like to see on the panel. We can't have the usual gasbag convention this time around. They can't mince words and they have to drop the bipartisan angle. It's a law and order question, period.