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2) Incredible Shrinking TARP Repayments
"[W]e've got to make sure that taxpayers, when they are putting their money at risk, have the possibility of getting that money back and gains, if the market—and when the market returns."
Obama's if/when statement revealed plenty. Tripling of the monetary base has created a series of fool's rallies on Wall Street, helped keep real estate prices from reaching affordable levels, made grocery shopping a painful ordeal, and induced four years of stagnation. So has all that suffering at least allowed taxpayers to collect from firms that received funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)?
Big no. While plenty of useful pundits have claimed TARP is being paid back with interest, the repayment actually follows a funny sliding-scale pattern: Every month or so you hear a figure about TARP profit, then a few months later you get a new figure that's lower than the earlier figure. Actual repayment has been limited almost entirely to the too-big-to-fail banks, which have gotten bigger and failier since 2008. There is little prospect that taxpayers will ever be repaid in full, let alone with interest. As the TARP Special Inspector General noted in a January report [pdf]: "TARP will continue to exist for years. TARP programs that support the housing market and certain securities markets are scheduled to last until as late as 2017, and the Treasury can spend an additional $51 billion on these programs during those years."
To be fair, Obama inherited TARP from the Bush administration (though as a senator Candidate Obama voted for it). But what about the part of the TARP disbursement the Obama Treasury Department brags about: the bailout of General Motors? GM still owes the taxpayers more than $23 billion in TARP money, has realized losses on more than $5 billion, and paid back another portion by borrowing from the other public funds.
Next: Make the banksters pay! (Part II)