House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach used a speech at an Exchequer Club luncheon last week to roast big-bank lobbyists opposing his financial reform legislation.
With many of his targets just a few feet away, the Iowa Republican said lobbyists are out of step with their bosses when they argue that banks and nonfinancial firms should be allowed to merge.
"In fact, one president of a money-center institution asked me 'Where did that idea come from?'" Rep. Leach said. "With great effort, I restrained myself from ratting on any members of the illuminati gathered here today."
In a town where $1,000-a-plate campaign fund-raisers are the norm, it's good to see that some Americans outside the nation's capital keep politics in perspective.
Scott County, Iowa, Re-publicans on Feb. 20 held a fund-raising dinner featuring Rep. Leach and other local politicos.
The cost per person: $7.50.
All hot air, no fire?
That turned out to be the case when a Federal Reserve Board meeting last Wednesday was interrupted by a fire alarm.
William W. Wiles, secretary for the board, ordered an evacuation of more than 50 people gathered for the meeting. While it turned out to be a false alarm, the disturbance interrupted a presentation on Regulation Y by Scott G. Alvarez, the Fed's associate general counsel.
Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan noted that Mr. Alvarez had not even mentioned the controversial changes yet. "If we had gotten there, we would know what triggered the fire alarm, " he quipped.
Not to be outlobbied by their nemeses the bankers, more than 3,500 credit union managers and directors were scheduled Sunday to begin a four- day show of force in Washington.
Their gathering at the Credit Union National Association's governmental affairs conference couldn't be more timely. Today, the Supreme Court is expected to announce-after two delays-whether it will hear the AT&T Family Federal Credit Union case.
Their lobbying effort could assume added urgency depending on the justices' decision.
Thomas D. Sheehan is the new chief operating officer at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. Mr. Sheehan's last day as acting director of policy for the Federal Housing Finance Board was Friday.