FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Congress is trying to get to the bottom of the financial meltdown that practically brought the country to its knees.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/13/art.lloyd.sachs.jpg caption="Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein testifies during the first public hearing of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on Capitol Hill."]
There were some tense exchanges on Capitol Hill today... with a bipartisan commission grilling the heads of Wall Street's top banks about who was to blame for the biggest downturn since the Great Depression.
The bank chiefs testified under oath about their institutions' mistakes that led to the crisis... things like the housing bubble, "new and poorly underwritten mortgage products" and "excessive speculation."
These banks bundled mortgages and sold them as investments. But when people began to default on the mortgages because they couldn't afford them in the first place, the bottom fell out.
At one point - Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein compared parts of the financial crisis to an earthquake and similar acts of God. Nice try. The commission's chairman - Democrat Phil Angelides - immediately pointed out: "These were acts of men and women."
The heads of three other big banks - JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America - also testified. They all tried to walk the fine line of owning up to what happened... while pushing back against potential government reforms that they think would go too far.
There's a lot of anger out there directed at Wall Street. Since the start of the downturn, seven million Americans have lost their jobs and more than two million families have lost their homes to foreclosure.
But the banks were given hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money to keep them afloat, and to this day they continue to pay out record bonuses. And they are making profits like they've never made before.
Here’s my question to you: How much were the banks to blame for the financial collapse?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/26/art.economy.a.gi.jpg caption="Are Federal Bailouts the answer to a country made great by a free market society?"]
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The financial crisis is uncharted territory.
Nobody knows if a $700 billion government bailout will do the trick or not. If we do nothing, the pessimists suggest we're headed off a cliff. Granted, in time and left to their own devices, the markets would likely self-correct. The question is whether the country could stand the pain that would undoubtedly involve.
On the other hand, if we allow the federal government to, in effect, take over and/or manage some of our biggest financial institutions, we have compromised our capitalism. And no one knows what the long term effects of that might be either.
The engines that drove our economy to be the most powerful the world has ever seen are free markets and an entrepreneurial spirit that allows those willing to take big risks to reap big rewards.
According to an Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll, 57 percent said they think the bailout is needed to keep the U.S. economy out of a serious recession. But only 35 percent said they think the plan would resolve the financial crisis.
Here’s my question to you: Should the government bail out the economy or should the markets be allowed to correct themselves?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?