March 24, 2009

Incorrect Information - Congress and the Witch Hunt

For me, there is nothing worse than incorrect information. We all make mistakes and misstatements, but just complete an utter incorrect information is just wrong. When I do it, I try to apologize and at least be humble.

Earlier today (Tuesday), I watched some of the U.S. House of Representative's Financial Services committee meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, U.S. Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner, and Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley testifying. I can honestly say that I have never been so embarrassed to see our politicians in action than I was today. Without calling out individual Representatives, let me just say that the "Grill on the Hill" as CNBC was calling it this morning prior to the hearing was exactly right.

Many of our representatives, from both parties, are either uneducated (I do not believe that) or just playing up to the media when these witch hunts take place. Let me give a few examples:

  • I heard one Representative essentially let Secretary Geithner know (by just about screaming) that it was evident that Goldman Sachs was behind the various bailouts to make money (completely untrue). In fact, they asked if his Chief of Staff worked at Goldman before. When Geithner said that it was one of several places, the accuser just kept on about how it was all a conspiracy (just do not ask the accuser about some of the various things that have surfaced lately about their personal life).
  • Another asked where in the Constitution did the Treasury or the Federal Reserve have the power to make their various moves. When Geithner tried to answer about the various powers that Congress had legislated, the questioner stopped him and said... the Constitution.
  • Finally, one made me so angered that I felt the need to write a letter explaining my embarrassment. The Representative essentially accused Bernanke and Geithner of using the AIG bailout funds to help any person with an AIG retirement account, so unlike the rest of us that loss "40% to 50%," they did not lose anything. How do you answer a question that is so far off base that it is just plain wrong?
    I nicely (unlike the tone the Representative took with Bernanke and Geithner) tried to explain in my letter that the AIG VALIC accounts (many of my readers have e-mailed me their statements) lost just as much as everyone else. They are invested in the same type of mutual funds that everyone else is, and they shared the same pain as everyone else did as the stock market plunged in the fall. How were those accounts saved again?
I am not going to call any one person out, but instead I would like to let it be known that if you do not have all of the information, please get it prior to asking questions. I was embarrassed by the lack of respect shown to these men testifying and the lack of preparation prior to asking questions.

I finished my letter with: "These are troubling times for the nation, economy, and stock market, and it will take a continued collaborative effort to move forward. I do not agree with all of the moves of our leaders from either party, but true bipartisan efforts will help to make a difference. I hope that you agree and that calmer heads will prevail."

I am sure my comments will fall upon deaf ears, but at least I have tried to speak. Let me go bang my head against the wall on another subject.

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