Listening to the Congressmen grill Bernanke and Geithner can be maddening. The self righteousness coupled with the utter lack of knowledge is just too much to bear.
That being said, the Congressmen have a right to be angry. Sure, the mistakes of regulators seem obvious in retrospect, but that’s not the issue — hindsight being 20/20 and all. The problem is that Congress’ legitimate role in crafting policy has been completely usurped.
Think about it. Back in November they took one vote, to approve the TARP, a scheme that was advertised as buying toxic assets from the banks and getting credit going again. That didn’t happen. The TARP wasn’t enacted as advertised, and it certainly didn’t accomplish that.
Since then it’s been an endless stream of new policy schemes completely out of their reach. TALF, the Public-Private Partnership, the homeowner bailout, the “no more Lehmans” policy, etc. Each of these things, which are pretty big policy decisions, have been done without any input from Congress. And remember, Congress is supposed to control the purse strings.
So yeah, we can understand why they’re pissed. Even if they don’t articulate it in the best way.