I have a scary feeling about Treasury Secretary Paulson. We, the people of the United States, gave him a blank check for $700,000,000,000.00, and he’s burning through it like a fire in a sawmill. That’s three-quarters of a trillion dollars – about $2300 for every man, woman and child in the country. I can’t even imagine how much money that is.
This is a man who, like his boss, has gotten just about everything wrong. He didn’t recognize the bursting of the housing bubble and, when he did finally see it, thought its impact would be minor. He didn't see a problem with letting Lehman Brothers fail. And he thought that the failing Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) was a terrific plan.
As of last week, $290 billion of the first $350 billion has been allocated, and it hasn't accomplished much of anything. Paulson gave $250 billion of our money to the reckless banks that got us into this mess in the first place without even bothering to set any real conditions on how they spent it. Most of it seems to have gone to bonuses, dividends, salaries and mergers. And we don’t really know what we got for collateral because no one knows if the “distressed assets” are worth the paper they’re printed on.
He gave another $40 billion to AIG so they could continue their corporate spending spree, but he doesn’t want to do anything about rapidly rising mortgage foreclosure rates or personal bankruptcies. He doesn’t want to help the floundering auto industry. He claims that he doesn’t have the legal authority to use the money appropriated for TARP for anything else.
This is a typical Bush Administration dodge. Paulson got a virtual blank check, and that is pretty much how he has used it. If you remember, the terms were that he couldn’t be “challenged by any arm of government or any court of law.” He has already bailed out a wide range of non-bank institutions with no oversight or accountability.
The Bush Administration has claimed unlimited powers in a wide range of areas, from the conduct of war to holding of prisoners without charges or trial. Now it’s claiming that it must follow the rules about saving the economy.
The only thing Paulson and his fellow bank robbers are sure of is that they’re taking care of their own as they ride out of town.
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