Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren grilled Wells Fargo’s CEO when he appeared before Congress Tuesday. The bank’s head, John Stumpf, came to Washington to answer for Wells Fargo employees who created millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts in the past five years. This earned the bank extra fees, of which the customers were unaware, while making Wells Fargo look like a great investment to Wall Street.
Warren thinks that the bank firing the 5,300 employees responsible is just window dressing. “You should resign,” Warren told Stumpf. “You should be criminally investigated.” A video of the exchange captivated struggling Americans angry at the elites who keep getting richer while they’re looking for change in their sofa to keep the lights on.
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 20, 2016
As one of those Americans, it was cathartic to see a greedy banker get his comeuppance. But a few minutes into the video, I was stunned at Sen. Warren’s hypocrisy. Instead of hauling CEOs before a Senate Banking Committee, I wish citizens could drag politicians before a Taxpayer Politicians Committee. So I slightly edited the transcript of Warren’s exchange to turn the tables on the high-spending progressive.
Taxpayer: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Sen. Warren, the US Constitution, which you swore to support and defend, says “We the People” are directed to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” So, let’s do that. Washington’s massive years-long scam has resulted in a debt of $19.5 trillion. Senators and Congressmen have said repeatedly: “I am accountable to the voters.” But what have you actually done to hold yourself accountable? Have you resigned as a US Senator?
Warren: The voters — I serve —
Taxpayer: Have you resigned?
Warren: No, I have not.
Taxpayer: Alright. Have you returned one nickel of the millions of dollars that you earned while this scam was going on?
Warren: Well, first of all, this was because of Republican obstructionism and…
Taxpayer: That’s not my question. This is about responsibility. Have you returned one nickel of the millions of dollars that you earned while this scam was going on?
Warren: The voters will take care of that.
Taxpayer: Have you returned one nickel of the money you earned while this scam was going on?
Warren: And the voters will do —
Taxpayer: I will take that as a no, then. Have you called for the firing of a single senior bureaucrat? And by that, I don’t mean some regional manager in the Cleveland office. I’m asking about the people who actually made these spending decisions.
Warren: We’ve made a change in our regional — to lead our regional offices —
Taxpayer: I just said I’m not asking regional managers. I’m not asking about regional offices. I’m asking if you have fired senior officials, the people who actually led us to this $19.5 trillion debt, who oversaw this fraud, or those who were in charge of making sure that the budgets were balanced.
Warren: Well, Harry Reid —
Taxpayer: Did you fire any of those people?
Taxpayer: No. OK, so you haven’t resigned, you haven’t returned a single nickel of your personal earnings, you haven’t fired a single senior official. Instead evidently your definition of “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” is to push the blame to low-level employees who don’t have the status for a fancy press office to defend themselves. It’s gutless leadership. In your time as a member of the Senate Banking Committee and the Economic Policy Committee, the federal government has been famous for overspending. This debt-driven overspending is one of the main reasons that Washington has become one of the wealthiest cities in the world. In fact, four of the five richest counties in the US surround the Beltway.
Warren: No. “Overspending” is just shorthand for deepening relationships with our constituencies. We only do well —
Taxpayer: Let me stop you right there. You say no? Loudon, Fairfax, Howard, and Arlington counties, all got richer as this scam was going on. I would like to submit them for the record if I may, Mr. Chair. Thank you.
Chair: No objections.
Taxpayer: Thank you, Mr. Chair. When voters saw propped-up economic numbers — they did, while this scam was going on — that was very good for you, personally, wasn’t it, Sen. Warren? Do you know how much your net worth increased while this scam was underway?
Warren: First of all, it was not a scam. And overspending is a way of deepening relationships. When voters…
Taxpayer: We’ve been through this, Sen. Warren. I asked you a very simple question. Do you know how much your net worth went up while this scam was going on?
Warren: It’s…. all of my compensation is on the public record—
Taxpayer: Do you know how much it was?
Warren: It’s all in the public records.
Taxpayer: You’re right. It is all in the public records because I looked it up. While this scam was going on, your net worth grew to an estimated $14.5 million, including your $5 million home, retirement fund, and salaries. Your leader, Sen. Reid, and many other senators are now multimillionaires, despite living on a government salary most of their adult lives.
You know, here is what really gets me about this, Sen. Warren. If one of your constituents hid a handful of $20 bills from the IRS, they probably would be looking at criminal charges. They could end up in prison. But you squeezed us taxpayers to the breaking point so that we’re desperate for those $20 bills, all so you could put millions of dollars in your own pocket. And when it all blows up, you keep your job, you keep your multimillion-dollar home, and you go on television to blame bankers for bringing us to this sorry state. This is about accountability. You should resign.
You should give back the money that you “earned” while this scam was going on and you should be criminally investigated by the Department of Justice. This just isn’t right. A taxpayer who hides a handful of twenties is held accountable. But Washington politicians never hold themselves accountable. Not now, and not in 2008 when they crushed the worldwide economy. The only way that Washington will change is if politicians and bureaucrats face jail time when they preside over massive frauds. We need tough new laws to hold rich politicians personally accountable and we need tough prosecutors who have the courage to go after people at the top. Until then, it will be business as usual. And at giant institutions like the federal government that seems to mean cheating as many taxpayers, voters, and citizens as they possibly can. Thank you, Mr. Chair.