THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Moment of Truth with Bill Moyers, Marcy Kaptur, and Simon Johnson

Bill Moyers' show is always illuminating, but tonight's is one that no one should miss. When I spoke to Bill yesterday he described it as "a moment of truth-telling that could ignite the public's passion for Wall Street reforms that have been strangled in the crib by the big banks and their bought-and-paid-for politicians."

Below are two clips from the show and the transcript of an exchange Moyers has with Kaptur and Johnson about the special phone-a-friend relationship Tim Geithner has with the heads of Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and what it says about how the system works -- for Wall Street. And tune in to PBS tonight at 9:00 pm ET to watch.

BILL MOYERS:
Let -- let's look at this story that just-- I just read from the Associated Press this week about how Treasury Secretary Geithner is on the phone several times a day with a select group of very powerful Wall Street bankers, especially Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs. He will talk to them when Members of Congress have to leave a message on the answering machine. And these are the bankers who helped bring on this calamity and who are now benefiting from it. What does that say to you?

MARCY KAPTUR:
That says to me that-- Wall Street and Washington is a circuit. And because Mr. Geithner headed the New York Fed that that historic relationship, unfortunately, continues. And it gives them special access and special power to influence policy.

SIMON JOHNSON:
Well, I think it really tells you how the-- the system works. The system is based on access and is based on-- on what-- on Wall Street shaping Washington's view of what's important. It's the people who are very close to Mr. Geithner before-- when he was the head of the New York Fed. Before he became Treasury Secretary. These people have unparalleled access. And in a crisis, when everything is up for grabs, you don't know what's going on, the people who-- who will take your phone calls, right, in government-- and people who are gonna be standing in the oval office, making the key decisions. That-- that's the-- that's the heart of the system. That's the-- the heart of how-- you get your agenda through, by changing their worldview.


MARCY KAPTUR:
And they also move people. In other words, Mr. Geithner came from the New York Fed, he came from Wall Street, and he becomes Secretary of the Treasury. His-- his-- predecessor, Mr. Paulson, came from Goldman Sachs, and he becomes Secretary of Treasury. You can go back decades, and you will see that there's this-- revolving door between Wall Street and Washington. And I recently asked Chairman Bernanke of the Federal Reserve, "Let me ask you a question. Would you be willing to consider a reform where the Cleveland Fed would have equal power to the New York Fed, in terms of how the Fed is run?" And his answer was, "No."

BILL MOYERS:
And why did you ask that question?

MARCY KAPTUR:
Because I think we need to democratize the Fed. I think that my region of the country, which is suffering so heavily from these decisions that were made by Wall Street and Washington, we need to have voice. And our bankers, who didn't do the bad things. Our community bankers, who are having to pay higher fees-- shouldn't be treated this way. Why should the people who did it right be penalized for those that did it wrong?