CEOs on the Hill

The political theater on Capitol Hill today is well underway: The CEOs of eight banks assured the House Financial Services Committee that they are, in fact, lending and are kissing the government’s feet for allowing them to do so. "Make no mistake: We are still lending, and we are lending far more because of the TARP program," Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis told Congress. The other CEOs, which include Vikram Pandit of Citigroup and Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, were similarly eager to lard Congress up with gratitude. "We're Americans first. We're bankers second,” Wells Fargo & Co.’s CEO John Stumpf said. According to The Wall Street Journal, “They also generally agreed with lawmakers' calls for better cooperation and better public relations. They were contrite and conceded they face a bitter public.”