Bankers Face Criticism on Capitol Hill

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While Congress debated over the stimulus package, Wednesday, eight of the nation's top bankers faced grilling on Capitol Hill for how they've handled their bailout billions.

Some lawmakers had tough words for the nation's top bankers.

"Too many of my people are losing their jobs due to your actions which have driven this economy into the ground," said South Carolina Rep. J. Gresham Barrett. "Small businesses back home, people I know, friends I go to church with are closing their doors, losing their jobs, and they're not getting bailed out."

Democrat Maxine Waters complained taxpayers gave the bankers billions, but when the taxpayers are asking for loans, she says "the banks are saying no."

Still, the CEOs all defended how their banks are acting.

"In the last year we've kept approximately four out of five distressed borrowers in their homes," claimed Citigroup head, Vakram Pandit.

Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase said his company has "made over $150 billion in new loans."

"In addition, we lent an average of $50 billion every night to other banks," he added.

A Morgan Stanley representative said it was their goal to "repay the taxpayers in full as soon as possible."

The hearing came as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner tried to sell a further financial system bailout that could cost up to $2.5 trillion.

"(Without it) you're going to have a deeper, more protracted recession," Geithner said. "Unemployment will be higher, hundreds of thousands of businesses will fail because of that."

Meanwhile, President Obama kept pushing for his stimulus plan, saying it could put people back to work on projects like the connector road in Virginia, unfinished for lack of funds.

"We're surrounded by unmet needs and unfinished business, in our schools, on our roads, in the systems we employ to treat the sick and the energy we use to power our homes," Obama said.

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CBN News
Paul Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Sr. Washington Correspondent

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