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Reid Seeks Testimony From Paulson, Bernanke

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) admonished Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for a lack of transparency in the recent government bailouts of major Wall Street firms and called on them to testify before Congress on the deepening economic crisis.

“I believe the American people have been kept in the dark as to what’s going on,” Reid told reporters Wednesday. “We’ve only had secret meetings, and I believe it’s time the secret meetings ended and that Paulson, Bernanke and other officials from the White House come and talk to the American people, and the way to do that is through our committee structure that we have set up here. That should have taken place already.”

Reid also called the White House to task for having been absent from the negotiations on the Fed’s bailout this week of insurance giant AIG. He noted that White House advisers have not been at the negotiating table with Wall Street firms and that the president’s Council of Economic Advisors has not met since March.

Reid said the most important thing Congress can do in the interim is to pass a tax extenders bill and a so-called “economic recovery” package. He said the tax extenders bill would spur job creation in the energy industry and the economic recovery would provide more funds for the unemployed as well as create jobs in the transportation sector by funding road construction projects.

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