Congress hasn’t done much in the last year to close some of the loopholes in the nation’s banking system that led to the worst economic crisis in America since the Great Depression, and it’s not hard to figure out why. They’re not that interested in the subject.
Today, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the House Financial Services Committee, which is “considering” changes in regulations.
Bernanke did something, however, that a lot of members of the committee didn’t do: He showed up. Here’s the revealing image off CNBC this morning:
What’s the point of being on an important committee, if you don’t show up — preferably for the entire hearing — to listen and participate in the discussion?
But discussions are rarely part of these hearings. Congresspeople show up for a few minutes when it’s their turn to ask questions, then use most of their time to make a speech, and leave.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., for example, had five minutes to quiz Bernanke this morning, but used all but 3 seconds of her time to read a statement criticizing the possibility of the dollar not being the international standard, criticizing President Obama for saying he ‘inherited’ the financial mess, and wondering whether a new regulatory agency would regulate funding to ACORN. She then invited Bernanke to respond.
That earned her a rebuke from committee chair Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. “I’ve asked you before… there’s only 3 seconds left in your time…. This practice of going right up to the end and then taking another minute or two is unfair to the other members.”
Frank gave Bernanke 30 seconds to answer Bachmann’s “questions,” and said the dollar is in danger and punted on the question of funding for ACORN.
People watching on TV tend to get more information about the state of the economy and the options for fixing it than people who are elected to fix it. That might explain why it’s broken.