Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., continued to interrogate government officials over their allowing big banks to increase in size and their refusal to prosecute those institutions in the wake of the financial mess they helped create. Her latest target: the Obama administration’s new Treasury secretary, Jack Lew.

At a Senate Banking Committee hearing Tuesday, Warren got the best of Lew as she pressed him on whether the government should take action to cap the size of big banks or break them up.

After he skirted her initial question about limiting the size of the largest financial institutions, Warren refused to let Lew get by with the non-answers that commonly pass as acceptable responses on Capitol Hill.

“Let me try the question a different way. How big do the biggest banks have to get before we consider breaking them up?” she asked Lew. “They’re 30 percent bigger now than they were five years ago. Do they have to double in size? Triple in size? Quadruple in size?”

Lew continued to make excuses, at which point Warren pointed out that what we’ve seen with the big banks is “one scandal after another.” She added, “It’s clear they have not changed their risk bearing practices nor have they decided that they’re suddenly going to start following the law.”

Warren cautioned Lew that it was important to act now because “we’re playing with the U.S. economy here, the worldwide economy.”

— Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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