We wish that we could have a video like this one EVERY MORNING, that is how much it pleases us to watch Elizabeth Warren embarrass bank regulators in front of a live audience. She should take this show on the road because we are INTO IT!
Of course, we use the term “regulators” figuratively, given that they can’t seem to regulate their asses with both hands, but Elizabeth Warren makes this point far better than we ever could which is why BIDEN/WARREN 2016! Or SANDERS/WARREN 2016! Or we could even be persuaded to back CLINTON/WARREN 2016! Or WARREN/BOOKER 2016! We’ll unreservedly and enthusiastically consider any of those options. Anyway, the video:
It starts with her explaining to the bank regulators why it is important for banks to go to trial when they break the law. Is it mind blowing that this requires an explanation? Yes, but this is the world we live in: a world where Elizabeth Warren feels she must carefully make a case for taking banks to trial when they break the law before beginning her inquiry. So she warms up with that, then says “tell me about the last few times you’ve taken the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to a trial.”
In THEORY, the regulators should be able to knock this one out of the park, right? It’s very open and vague! It’s not, “hey, the last time you took a bank to trial, why did you do XYZ and not ABC?” it’s “Why don’t you go ahead and tell me whatever you want about any of the last few times you took a bank to trial, whatever you want to tell me is cool.”
And yet, it goes very poorly for them starting at around 1:40, which is when Liz Warren finishes asking the question.
LIZ WARREN: When was the last time you took a bank to trial?
THOMAS CURRY, HEAD OF THE OFFICE OF THE COMPTROLLER: We view the mechanisms we have as tools for correcting deficiencies? So the primary motive for our enforcement actions is to really identify the problem, and then demand a solution to it on an ongoing basis.
Sorry Tom Curry, but you look like kind of a weenie and it concerns us that YOU are a key figure charged with enforcing the law for enormous financial institutions filled with douchebags like the Fabulous Fab. Also, THE WHOLE SYSTEM IS ONE BIG DEFICIENCY! Apparently Liz Warren feels the same way.
LIZ WARREN: So you set a price for that, and it’s effectively a settlement. So what I’m asking is when was the last time you took a big financial institution–a Wall Street Bank–to trial.
TOM CURRY: The institutions I supervise…we’ve actually had a number of consent orders, and we do not have to bring people to uh trial or uh–“
LIZ WARREN: I appreciate that you say you don’t have to bring them to trial. My question is, when did you bring them to trial?” she responded.
TOM CURRY: We have not had to do it as a practical matter to achieve our supervisory goals.
Hey that’s funny. When we were freshmen in college, we did not have to study as a practical matter to achieve our academic goals, because our academic goals were not very high at the time. Looks like Tom and your Wonkette have that in common!
How about you, Elisse Walter, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission? Do you have anything to say about all this?
ELISSE WALTER: Thank you Senator. Uh. Uh. Among our remedies are penalties but the penalties we can get are limited and we’d have to ask for additional authority as my predecessor did to raise penalties. When we look at these issues–and we truly believe we have a very vigorous enforcement program–we look at the distinction between what we can get if we go to trial and what we can get if we don’t.
Oh that’s nice, the Securities and Exchange Commission is apparently not empowered to take financial institutions to trial, but don’t worry! They nonetheless have a vigorous enforcement program, so that’s welcome news.
LIZ WARREN: I appreciate that. That’s what everybody does. Can you identify the last time when you took the Wall Street banks to trial?
ELISSE WALTER: I will have to get back to you with specific information.
What an effective system of justice we have, given that no one can or will or feels like taking banks to trial, but would rather just make them pay fines. But not too many fines, and certainly not fines that the principal actors have to pay out of their very own money, no sir. That would just be taking it too far.