An Overview of Our Hilarious Bail-Out

When Congress gave Hank Paulson $700 billion to spend however he wanted to spend it, they also appointed a weak little Congressional Oversight Panel with a suggestive acronym (COP) but no subpoena power. Not surprisingly, the unarmed COP has no idea where most of the money went.

InterPress has a useful overview of this hilarious boondoggle by Adrianne Appel, with some scarifying quotes from the chair-person of COP, Elizabeth Warren:

"We are here to ask the questions that we believe all Americans have a right to ask: who got the money, what have they done with it, how has it helped the country and how has it helped ordinary people?"

Apparently we won't know where the money is going until it's gone. Ms. Appel summarizes the little that's actually known now:

Paulson has since doled out the equivalent of 1,900 dollars per U.S. family to banks and financial institutions, according to Warren's panel. None of the Treasury funds have been aimed at slowing foreclosures.

Paulson gave 40 billion dollars to insurance giant AIG, 165 billion dollars to 87 banks, including Citigroup and eight other of the largest financial institutions in the U.S., plus an additional 20 billion dollars to Citigroup. The nine large banks were required to give the U.S. a limited amount of stock and returns in exchange for the money.

The Treasury bailout programme, run by Assistant Secretary Neel Kashkari, did not require the banks to use the money in any particular way.

So that's the non-story of Congressional "oversight" of $700 billion: Nobody knows who got most of it, nobody knows what whoever got it did with it, and nobody knows if it helped anybody except the same bankers who made this incredible mess.


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    Why bother? (none / 0) (#1)
    by Jacob Freeze on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 10:34:59 AM EST
    Attentive readers, if any, might wonder about the usefulness of posting a blog that's just a couple of clips from another article, instead of simply posting a link.

    In this case, I pasted in about 1/4 of the original, and most of what I left out is just the sort of meaningless noise that journalism majors learn to make under the pretense of "fair and balanced" reporting.

    For example, Ms. Appel notes that COP has no subpoena power, and anybody who ever followed Congressional hearings knows this makes it a toothless watchdog. Forget this silly thing!

    But Ms. Appel is duty-bound to repeat the claim that the panel "will work together with Special Inspector General Neil M. Barofsky," meaning he may throw them a few crumbs on the way to making his own report.

    All this noise gets in the way of recognizing the bail-out as nothing but a humongous amount of money donated with no strings attached to the same speculators who broke the banks.