Sunday marked the fifth anniversary of the announcement that Lehman Brothers was declaring bankruptcy, the largest in the nation's history and the defining moment of the 2008 financial crises that rocked the globe.
Hank Paulson was the one official in the George W. Bush administration who acted with force and prevented the crises from spreading. On Meet The Press on Sunday he said he remained convinced that his emergency actions prevented another Great Depression, and told NBC's David Gregory that the economy is "much better off" than it was in 2008.
But as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has noted, U.S. banks are now 30 percent larger than they were in 2008.
Former Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank, the House sponsors of the much maligned "Dodd-Frank" bill on financial regulations, said there's only one prohibition in that piece of legislation that truly puts a hurt on the banks - the provision that if they take risks they have to be responsible if those risks go bad.
Frank said he disagreed with Senator Warren that the banks remain "too big to fail."
"There are some large institutions that are too big to fail without taking account of the consequences. So what we have is the power of federal officials too step in, put those institutions out of business," Frank added. "So, what happened with AIG, what happened with other institutions, that cannot happen again. That cannot happen again. You cannot if you are overly indebted receive help from the federal government in paying your debts."
Joining the conversation was CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, who defended Wall Street (nothing new there), saying "we need to get beyond the conversation of 'Is Wall Street evil? Are the bankers evil? And causing pain, and toward the conversation of 'how do you create sustainable economic growth.'? That will add to the issue of inequality, because with growth comes jobs."
Frank answered Bartiromo's concerns about "those poor, beleaguered bankers who have been forced to do so much to keep from not being able to pay their debts that they can't lend money. If they really are running businesses that are so stressed that they can't do their patient work, why are they paying themselves so much money? Where did these enormous salaries come from if they were in fact in some serious trouble."
The camera flashed towards Bartiromo, who had nothing to say.
The panel didn't weigh in on whether Obama should pick Larry Summers or Janet Yellen in replacing Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve.