Glenn Thrush reports at Politico that Congress’ “oversight czar” for the bailouts hasn’t gotten much cooperation from the Most Transparent Administration Evah. Elizabeth Warren told the Senate Finance Committee today that she needs a law passed that would require Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to talk to her. Apparently, no one in the committee realized that Treasury and the rest of the Obama administration has continued to break existing law on oversight:
Elizabeth Warren, the law professor appointed as Congress’s oversight czar on bank bailouts, blasted the Treasury Department — saying new legislation might be needed to give the House and Senate more access to details of the $700 billion rescue program.
Warren, testifying before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday morning, said keeping Congress in the loop isn’t a “priority” of Secretary Tim Geithner — and suggested a possible “next step” would be to pass legislation that would “require [Treasury] to consult” with her. …
She added that Treasury has given her “no articulation of what [the bailout] is supposed to accomplish” and lamented the fact that “we have no way to measure” its success.
Chuck Grassley told her that Congress ought to send a few Senators to accompany Warren on her next visit to get more cooperation. Maybe Grassley and Congress ought to demand that the Obama administration abide by existing law and have the Financial Stability Oversight Board (FINSOB) start meeting again. As I wrote eleven days ago, the Obama administration has not held a single meeting of FINSOB since Obama’s inauguration, despite a legal requirement to meet at least monthly:
In addition to the normal oversight provided by Congressional committees of jurisdiction, the Congress established four important avenues of oversight: one, the Financial Stability Oversight Board; two, the Special Inspector General; three, the Government Accountability Office; and four, the Congressional Oversight Panel. I will review Treasury’s interaction with each body in detail.
First, we moved immediately to establish the Financial Stability Oversight Board, which, by law, includes: the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
The law required the first board meeting to take place within fourteen days. We moved very quickly, and the Oversight Board met within four days. At that initial meeting, the members of the Board selected Chairman Bernanke to be Chairman of the Oversight Board. The law requires the Board to meet once a month, but it has already met four times in the just two months since the law was signed, with numerous staff calls between meetings, and expects to meet again this week.
The Obama administration moved the records of FINSOB meetings to its new Financial Stability website, and the update confirms my earlier report that FINSOB has not met since January 15th, in clear violation of the TARP legislation. Congress demanded oversight and accountability for their massive outlays of funds to Treasury. The Bush administration responded, holding meetings almost every week when Hank Paulson was Treasury Secretary. His last FINSOB meeting was January 15th; Geithner has yet to chair a single FINSOB meeting.
Rather than pass more legislation, let’s have Congress enforce the laws on the books. We need to demand an answer as to why Geithner and Obama are avoiding oversight through FINSOB.