Issa: Paulson testimony will be received 'rather cruelly'

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will be met "somewhat cruelly" by lawmakers tomorrow when he testifies on Capitol Hill.

Paulson is set to defend his actions in last fall's merger between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch in sworn testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"I think he's going to be received somewhat cruelly," Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking member of that committee, said Wednesday on the Fox Business Network in anticipation of the testimony.

Paulson will say that while he communicated some potential consequences to Bank of America executives after they got cold feet in the Merrill deal, he never acted inappropriately, or acted at the behest of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Issa said Paulson's testimony attempts to "thread the needle," and demonstrates "the hubris of government."

The California Republican said Paulson "clearly" threatened Bank of America officials during last December's wranglings. "It was clearly a use of $700 billion of walking-around money that Congress had given these people, and they were using it as both a carrot and a stick," Issa said.

Issa added that he hoped that Oversight hearings with Paulson and Bernanke will give Congress pause before granting an administration the kind of extraordinary powers and spending authority contained in last fall's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

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