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Somebody had to say it. Speaking for America, someone had to ask how it was possible that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission could have let Bernie Madoff get away with stealing $50 billion.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman delivered a tongue−lashing to members of the SEC testifying before the House Financial Services Committee. He did so in a way that was quintessential Ackerman.
He quickly ran out of patience with the bureaucrats. He asked how it was possible that Madoff could get away for so long with his Ponzi scheme. The commission members said they could not discuss particulars because of an ongoing investigation and they talked about all the good the SEC is doing and the bad guys they have caught.
Ackerman exploded: “We listen to you and we hear words, words, words and no answer. We listen to the group of you giving us very calm assurances that everything is okay, under control and there are no problems, that you’re lending out all of this money and that everything is hunky−dory.”
And then he delivered a line that captured the frustration of an entire nation: “You couldn’t find your backside with two hands if the lights were on. You have totally failed in your mission. Don’t you get it?”
He added: “What happened here? That’s a question. Do we start with hear no evil, see no evil or do no evil? Take your pick.” He reminded the stunned commission members that an agent had discovered the fraud nearly a decade earlier and nothing was done.
The hearing had the media calling Ackerman a “rising star of Capitol Hill crabdom” and “a highly quotable grump.”
Earlier in the month, the 14−term congressman locked horns with the heads of the nation’s largest banks as they testified about how they were using the bailout. He noted that in “the real world, people cannot get loans to buy cars or homes or send children to college.”
He pointed out that although the government invested $165 billion in the eight banks, five of the bankers sitting before him said they had not bought a single share in their banks.
If nothing else, Ackerman is entertaining. But in the last month, he threw some much−deserved punches on behalf of the American taxpayer.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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