By Craig J. Cantoni
Feb. 13, 2009
You’ve probably seen the news coverage of House of Representative members grilling Wall Street executives about their extravagant spending while taking public money. You might not have seen the subsequent grilling of Tom, Dick and Harry by the House Financial Services Committee. I’ve obtained a transcript of the hearing, and here are excerpts:
Rep. Barney Frank: The next witness before the committee is Tom Schmuckatora of Cleveland, Ohio. I’m going to begin by reading some facts about the witness into the record and then asking the witness to verify that they are true. Mr. Schmukatora is 70 years old and 60 lbs overweight. Because he has ignored his doctor’s advice to lose weight and restrict his consumption of fat, sugar, and cholesterol, he has had two bypass surgeries and has let his diabetes reach a critical stage. So far, his Medicare bills total $50,000 more than what he has paid into Medicare. Yet he recently bought a new Buick Lucerne for $35,000 and then paid an extra $5,000 to have it customized with a Landau top. Is that correct, Mr. Schmuckatora?
Tom: (Dressed in plaid golf pants] Yes, but you can’t expect me to pull into a handicap parking space at the golf course in a Honda Civic. Not only would my friends laugh at me, but I couldn’t fit into a car that small.
Rep. Barney Frank: Shameless! I’ll call the next witness, the president of AARP, Dick Dinglehopper of Washington, D.C., who, by the way, has a cute rear end. My esteemed colleague, Rep. Maxine Waters, will interview him while I wink and leer at him.
Rep. Maxine Waters: Mr. Dinglehopper, I understand that AARP and its 30 million members have resisted all proposed reforms of Social Security and Medicare, even though the Comptroller General has estimated that the unfunded liabilities for both entitlements total more than $60 trillion. Other reliable sources put the liabilities closer to $100 trillion, or nearly $1 million for each American under the age of 18. Whatever the number, it makes the recent stimulus bill and bank bailout look like pocket change by comparison. Do you agree?
Dick: No, I don’t agree. AARP’s economists have calculated the liabilities to be $24.95.
Rep. Barney Frank: The witness is excused -- excused from the hearing, I mean, not excused for his selfishness and greed. By the way, he’s invited to my next orgy with House pages. The next witness is Harry Huckleblarney of Great Plaines, Nebraska. My esteemed colleague, Rep. Luis Gutierrez will interview him.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Mr. Huckleblarney, I understand that you have a net worth of $2 million and had a net income of $200,000 last year. Yet you received $43,000 in farm subsidies last year and will receive $50,000 this year under the stimulus bill. Do I have the facts right?
Harry: [Dressed in bib overalls] Yup! And I appreciate the bipartisanship of Democrats and Republicans in supporting the American farmer. President Obama is proud of the way that you guys work together to protect farming jobs and rip off grocery shoppers.
Rep. Barney Frank: Let’s take an orgy, er, lunch break, now. We’ll reconvene at two o’clock to hear the testimony of other common folk who feed at the public trough. Meeting adjourned. Now where did Dick Dinglehopper go?
An author and columnist, Mr. Cantoni can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. When he headed a large grassroots group in New Jersey, he testified before a congressional sub-committee along with 12 members of the NJ congressional delegation, including Senators Bill Bradley and Frank Lautenberg. When the sub-committee chairman called a break, the chairman began speaking and laughing with a big-shot lobbyist from the opposition. While the TV cameras and reporters were still present, Mr. Cantoni yelled out, “Hey, how about giving equal time to John Q. Citizen?” In other words, he showed the respect that Congress deserves.