Who are you calling a “punk staffer”?
House Republican leader John Boehner’s comment about “punk staffers” involved in the writing of the financial regulation bill did not seem to sit well with White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers.
In an appearance at the National Press Club, Summers made a point of bringing up the comments by Boehner, who urged bankers to stand up for themselves and said they should not “let those little punk staffers” working on the bill take advantage of them.
Boehner may not have been spoiling for a fight, but he got one.
Summers pressed his criticism of lobbyists who the Obama administration accuse of trying to water down the proposals for tighter regulation of Wall Street.
“I do not think of the people who work on this project as ‘little punk staffers.’ I do not think that those who want to address these issues are ‘little punk staffers’ who need to be stood up to,” Summers said.
“And at a time when industry has hired –- has spent $1 million on lobbyists per member of Congress, at a moment when there are four lobbyists per member of the House and Senate working on this issue, we in the administration do not believe that the prominent issue is allowing bankers to stand up for themselves.”
Summers, a former Treasury secretary, his deputy Diana Farrell and several Treasury staff members worked closely with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd on the 1,336-page legislation the Democratic senator introduced this week.
The push for a revamp of Wall Street regulations has taken a back seat as President Barack Obama has spent the last several weeks focusing on healthcare. Whenever that gets resolved — a vote is expected in the next several days — the White House is likely to resume a major focus on regulatory reform.
Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Summers speaks at the National Press Club)