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Lawmakers Pull Few Punches With Bank Executives

Chief executives at eight banks and securities firms that have gotten $165 billion in federal aid were barraged by U.S. lawmakers, who showed little patience for a charm offensive aimed at defusing ire over pay and lending.

During Wednesday’s seven-hour hearing before the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) referred to the CEOs, sitting in alphabetical order at a long table, as “captains of the universe.”

When Bank of America Corp. Chairman and CEO Kenneth Lewis responded, “corporals of the universe,” Rep. Waters looked at him blankly. “Did you raise your credit-card rates?” she demanded.

It was a typical moment in a hearing that underscored how big-bank CEOs have become lightning rods for the anger and misery fueled by falling home prices, rising unemployment and the deepening recession.

complete article @ Wall Street Journal

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