PBS NewsHour's Ray Suarez produced an informative and compelling report for Friday evening's broadcast on how the financial mess came to be a financial mess. In it, Elizabeth Warren, the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel said three simple regulations would've prevented it.
Her panel blamed "complacent policymakers for missing warning signs of a looming financial crisis and called for tighter regulations to prevent it happening again."
But what stuck me was the image above. A near-empty hearing room where Warren (in the foreground) appeared. Where was everybody?
It's the weekend!!! not like there's a looming crisis or anything.
I doubt many (any?) congress-people are really feeling the pain much themselves. They like to talk the talk about the plight of the middle class, but clearly walking on down to the hearing room is too much to ask.
Where was everybody?
Fundraising for 2010 from some of the same interests they're in charge of regulating, is the most likely answer.
Having watched a number of congressional hearings before, it's common practice for the hearing room to be nearly empty. Members are given 5-minute increments to ask questions. Usually, a member will walk in shortly before it's their turn and read a 3-minute long statement prepared by their staff, sometimes with a question thrown in at the end. Whoever's testifying will pretend to take notes, gaze into the Congressman's face intently, nod every now and then, say, "Great question, Congressman..." [quality of the response depends on the quality of the statement/question] "I look forward to working with you on this important matter, Congressman." Member exits the hearing room to resume raising funds.
Alien anthropologists will conclude congressional oversight to be a tedious form of kabuki theater.