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Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MILLER of North Carolina. Mr. Chairman, I did not want to cut the spending for NASA either, but the financial crisis of 2008, from which we are still suffering, cost Americans trillions of dollars. And even more importantly, it has undermined deeply Americans' faith that our Nation really does believe in the rule of law, that the same laws apply to all of us equally. They have not seen anything that justifies a belief that that has happened in this case.

What happened in the financial crisis was not a perfect storm of unforeseeable economic forces. What happened was a visible hand of fraud, or at least a hand that would be visible if anyone would just look.

But despite the fact, the compelling evidence of real misconduct, fraud and probably criminal fraud, there has certainly not been an investigation. There certainly have not been prosecutions to reassure Americans that, yes, there is a rule of law, and those same laws apply to you no matter who you are, what your station in life is.

If we seriously pursued those claims of fraud, those allegations of fraud, criminal fraud charges, every defendant would have a defense team that would make the O.J. defense team look like a public defender 2 years out of law school handling 100 other cases. We would be swamped by the opposition.

But that is certainly no reason not to pursue those charges. In fact, that is all the more reason to go forward and to pursue criminal fraud, to assure Americans that you do not get out of the rule of law; you do not get a ``get out of jail free'' card because you are rich and powerful.

In contrast, the savings and loan crisis, which was nothing compared to the crisis that we are still in, there were 1,000 agents from the FBI who were assigned to investigate. There were ample lawyers to bring the claims; and, in fact, almost 1,000 figures from the savings and loan crisis, in fact, were criminally prosecuted and went to jail, with a 90 percent conviction rate.

The current task force, the one the President announced at the State of the Union, has now, we understand, 50 to 60 lawyers and accountants working on the largest financial crisis in history since the Great Depression. The results of this are going to depend upon the kind of resources that that task force has.

It is important that we compensate the people who were the victims of that fraud, and the task force will have the legal power to do that. Even more importantly, it will satisfy Americans' sense of justice, the sense of justice that has been offended, that the people who have suffered the most from the financial crisis really were blameless. And they do believe that there were people who were not blameless, whose misconduct, including criminal misconduct, caused it. We need to satisfy their sense of justice.

Mr. Chairman, I want to satisfy my sense of justice. I support Ms. Waters' amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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