Things got pretty heated at today’s AIG hearings on the Hill. Rep. Elijah Cummings kicked things off with a crazy analogy about how the United States was a corpse financial institutions robbed, or something, and hardly anyone else missed their chance to grandstand. The first guest on today’s program, Tim Geithner, gave it right back, in testimony punctuated with more eyebrow-raising, shouting, finger jabs, and can-you-believe-how-dumb-these-people-are eye rolls than a Real Housewives reunion. At one point, he took it upon himself to give Marcy “Hank Paulson was a day trader” Kaptur of Ohio a little history lesson.
Here’s our transcript:
Kaptur: A lot of people think that the president of the New York Fed works for the U.S. government, but in fact, you work for the private banks that elected you. Can you provide —
Geithner: No, that is not true.
Kaptur: Can you provide for the record the names of the bankers that elected you in 2002?
Geithner: That is a matter of public record, and of course we can do that.
Kaptur: Thank you. Goldman —
Geithner: But Congresswoman, can I just say, what you just said is not true. I work for the public interest, officials in the Federal Reserve work for the public interest and they for the government.
Kaptur: But the people don’t elect you, the heads of the Fed around the country don’t elect you, it’s the individuals that sit on the board of the New York Fed that elect you.
Geithner: It’s slightly more complicated than that. [Geithner smirks, then slowly continues in a manner that distinctly says, “Let me speak slowly, so that it sounds like I’m being helpful when, in fact, I’m trying to figure out ways to have you locked in a vault beneath the Treasury Department.] You see, what the Congress did in setting up the Fed, is set up a system where the presidents of the regional reserve banks are elected by the board but it requires the approval of the chairman of the board in Washington for them to serve. It’s a delicate system of checks and balances, and Congress designed that system. [Cocks an eyebrow: Isn’t that interesting, Marcy? People just like you! Well, not exactly like you. Smarter.]
Kaptur: Yes, but it was largely private banks that elected you and I would like you to admit that for the record.
Geithner: Yes, that is a matter of public record.
Kaptur: Uh, number three: Goldman Sachs was the largest domestic recipient of funds, in this AIG counterparty arrangement. Let me ask you, your chief of staff is the gateway for access to you. Can you provide his name?
Geithner : [Lifts eyebrow, affects exaggerated patience.] His name is Mark Patterson?
Kaptur: And, um, for whom did he work before you selected him as your chief of staff?
Geithner: He worked for the president’s transition team.
Kaptur: No, who did he work for before that?
Geithner: [Eye roll] Before that—and this is a matter of public record and you know the answer to this question—he worked for Goldman Sachs, but —
Kaptur: Thank you.
Geithner: But Congresswoman — [Getting pissed.]
Kaptur: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, you answered the question.
Geithner: But Congresswoman —
Kaptur: [Lifts hand.] YOU ANSWERED THE QUESTION.
Geithner: But —
Kaptur: YOU ANSWERED THE QUESTION!
And here Is the video