So the tab is now in - about $3 trillion of taxpayer resources have gone out the door to Wall Street banks (and that doesn't include trillions in additional loan guarantees). Many of us - including me - were hoping that once George W. Bush left office, there would be significantly more oversight of and strings attached to the money. Not so, says the government's top watchdog, the esteemed progressive, Elizabeth Warren:
Six months after the Troubled Asset Relief Program was signed into law, lawmakers and oversight officials, worried about the trillions of taxpayer dollars at stake, said Tuesday that the Treasury Department had not resolved problems regarding the program's accountability and transparency, nor a communications strategy.
"Our concern right now is that we do not seem to be a priority for the Treasury Department," Elizabeth Warren chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel told a Senate Finance Committee hearing today.
I might feel a bit better about all this if the government's special inspector general overseeing TARP funds wasn't also saying that he's concerned that bailout cash is being stolen and/or misused:
US authorities have launched more than a dozen criminal investigations into possible fraud involving bank bail-out funds, the special inspector-general for the troubled assets relief programme told Congress on Tuesday.
Certainly, it's good that criminal investigations are happening - but the fear is that if those are happening without much disclosure, they may only be netting a tiny number of infractions that are actually being committed. And I think that's a justifiable fear when the government's top watchdog is saying that the Treasury Department under Bush and now Obama is refusing to provide basic information to her panel.