With an eye towards quelling the populist anger roiling across the nation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today called for the creation of a commission to root out the causes of Wall Street's meltdown patterned after an obscure Depression-era committee.
In San Francisco to speak about her book encouraging the rise of women in society at a gathering for the Commonwealth Club of California, Pelosi said Americans are angry with the economy and bonuses given to AIG and said at least 75 percent want an investigation into the missteps that led to this recession.
"That's what we would do with this commission, is to make sure it does not happen again." she said.
Pelosi spoke with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner this morning about the plan to emulate the Pecora Commission created in 1932. That commission named after the Deputy District Attorney of New York County Ferdinand Pecora followed two failures and benefited by Franklin Roosevelt's election. The commission's findings led to the Securities Act of 1933 and the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission,itself, alleged to have been lax in regulating Wall Street with Bernard Madoff's infamous Ponzi scheme being the poster boy for this age of decadence.
“Some people can tell you one piece of it. Others can tell you another piece of it. It's really hard to know. Do you understand it?” Pelosi asked rhetorically, “We need a clearer understanding of how we got here.”
Pelosi is not the first politician to allude to the Pecora Commission in recent weeks. Sen. Byron Dorgan called for a new iteration of the committee along with reinstituting the Glass-Steagall Act whi9ch separated commercial and investment banking. Many believe its repeal in 1999 was the impetus for banks and investment firms like Citigroup and Travelers to merge and allow the subprime credit markets to run rampant. A New York Times editorial last month also called for a Pecora-like commission to be created.
The Speaker drew upon her personal biography to encourage woman to continue to rise to more positions of power. Her book, Know Your Power: A Message to American Daughters urges woman to get involved in all aspects of community service. Pelosi, herself, is the daughter of the Baltimore establishment and said she found politics both exciting and distasteful. “It taught me I didn't want to be a part of it,” she said.
While raising five children with husband Paul Pelosi, who incidentally spent the speech doting over their newest grandchildren, she slowly became immersed in Bay Area politics with her big break occurring in 1976 when she secured Maryland for a youthful Jerry Brown in the Democratic presidential primaries. Pelosi joked, though, the then-Governor of California had a problem with saying, “thank you.”
Despite no longer being in office and playing to the liberal San Francisco audience, Pelosi also had a few jabs for former President Bush. While saying she “absolutely loves” working with President Obama, she said “having a great intellect saves a lot of time.”