$2.98 Trillion Spent on Bailouts, Treasury fights transparency

Possibly hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money lost to fraud.

A special inspector general overseeing government efforts to bail out portions of the private sector said Tuesday the U.S. so far has committed nearly $2.98 trillion toward stabilizing financial companies and rescuing domestic auto makers.

Meanwhile, only $109.5 billion remains in a $700 billion program that was launched as a way to remove toxic assets from bank balance sheets, Neil Barofsky told lawmakers. Mr. Barofsky has come to be known as the "TARP cop" because his office is responsible for policing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.

His estimates match that given by the Government Accountability Office, which also oversees the program, but differ from the $134.5 billion remaining-funds estimate that the Treasury Department gave over the weekend.

At a Senate Finance Committee hearing Tuesday, Mr. Barofsky attributed the discrepancy between the figures to Treasury's expectation that TARP recipients will return $25 billion in funds to the program. But because regulators must approve the return of funds, it isn't clear just how much will flow back into the TARP.

The $2.98 trillion figure given by Mr. Barofsky reflects spending on the TARP as well as funding for certain programs from the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It doesn't include costs for working-capital loans to General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC or a new government auto-warranty-guarantee program unveiled Monday. . . .

Such a large commitment of funds in such a short time "will inevitably attract those seeking to profit criminally," Mr. Barofsky said. "If, by percentage terms, some of the estimates of fraud in recent government programs apply to the TARP programs, we are looking at the potential exposure of hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money lost to fraud," he told lawmakers. . . .

The fight over transparency is here:

Barofsky had a simple message: The government should require any bank receiving taxpayer dollars to explain how it is spending the money.

The official, Neel Kashkari, disagreed. So Barofsky, the special inspector general for the program, said his office would do it instead.

"I don't think Treasury's done enough," he said. . . .

This is also relevant: Bill To Increase TARP Oversight Stalls In Congress.

Bloomberg has this:

The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have spent, lent or committed $12.8 trillion, an amount that approaches the value of everything produced in the country last year, to stem the longest recession since the 1930s.

New pledges from the Fed, the Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. include $1 trillion for the Public-Private Investment Program, designed to help investors buy distressed loans and other assets from U.S. banks. The money works out to $42,105 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. and 14 times the $899.8 billion of currency in circulation. The nation’s gross domestic product was $14.2 trillion in 2008. . . .

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Blogger ICONIC FREEDOM said...

"The government should require any bank receiving taxpayer dollars to explain how it is spending the money."

ALL government funded programs should have such stipulations - it's absurd to be just handing pluralistic tax dollars to agencies without any oversight and return on investment reviews.

Who, in their right mind, would ever invest in any business, investment, or the stock market without oversight and review.

Only the government would be this stupid!

Only those who like to be victims engage in such complicit activity.

4/01/2009 8:20 AM  

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