Five years ago Wednesday, when I was the speaker, I gathered the other Democratic House leaders in my office to discuss the latest financial news. I told them that, as a matter of course, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson briefed me on the state of the markets and the financial system, but had not done so that week.In that time, Lehman Bros. had filed for bankruptcy; Merrill Lynch had faced failure and had been purchased by Bank of America; and, two days earlier, AIG had survived only after a Federal Reserve bailout.After the meeting at 3 p.m., I placed a call to Secretary Paulson and asked him to come the next morning to brief the leadership. Then came his stunning response: “Madam Speaker, tomorrow morning will be too late.”At that point, my question was, “Then why am I calling you?” My impression from his response was that the Bush White House did not want him informing Congress of the pending meltdown. But, he said, “You’re the speaker of the House; I’m the secretary of the Treasury. You’re asking me, so I’m telling you what’s happening.”We then planned to meet at 5 p.m. that day, and I invited Federal Reserve Chairman Ben… Read full this story
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