Elizabeth Warren Questions Treasury Secretary Jack Lew
Elizabeth Warren has turned in another dramatic Banking Committee hearing performance by aggressively questioning an Obama Administration official—this time newly minted Treasury Secretary Jack Lew—in public. This is becoming something of a trademark move for Warren, who has, at this point, sent enough videos of Senate panel hearings viral, she threatens to turn CSPAN 3 into Buzzfeed.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew appeared at a Senate banking committee hearing on Tuesday and Warren questioned him on whether it’s time to cap the size of the banks deemed “too big to fail” during the 2008 financial crisis. She began by pointing out that these institutions have only grown in size since 2008. “How big do the biggest banks have to get before we consider breaking them up? Do they have to double in size? Triple in size? Quadruple in size?” Lew cautioned against implementing any measures before the Dodd-Frank financial reform law is fully enacted, but agreed, as did Ben Bernanke when she questioned him on the same issue, that the problem of “too big to fail” hadn’t been resolved.
As we said, this is by no means the first time Warren has gotten aggressive with officials from her own party. She’s used Banking Committee hearings to question Bernanke, Treasury and Comptroller employees, an SEC nominee … she’s accused Attorney General Eric Holder of taking an approach to financial institutions she calls “too big for trial.” It’d all be a bit brazen for a new Senator if Warren’s celebrity didn’t give her an independent power base of sorts … the one that gleefully sends her soundbites viral whenever they appear online. As David Bernstein wrote in the Boston Phoenix:
This is not the head-down, limelight-avoiding playbook typically followed by Senate freshmen — especially celebrities, such as Hillary Clinton in 2001 or Barack Obama in 2005.
In fact, it is the kind of behavior that would get a lot of new lawmakers smacked down hard, or marginalized into ineffectiveness….
But Warren has an independence and authority that frees her to be outspoken without getting alienated. She can embarrass the Barack Obama administration for failing to send bankers to jail without fear.
File this away as further evidence.