In the six weeks since lawmakers approved the Treasury’s massive bailout of financial firms, the government has poured money into the country’s largest banks, recruited smaller banks into the program and repeatedly widened its scope to cover yet other types of businesses, from insurers to consumer lenders.
By Amit R. Paley
The Washington Post
Along the way, the Bush administration has committed $290 billion of the $700 billion rescue package.
Yet for all this activity, no formal action has been taken to fill the independent oversight posts established by Congress when it approved the bailout to prevent corruption and government waste. Nor has the first monitoring report required by lawmakers been completed, though the initial deadline has passed.
“It’s a mess,” said Eric M. Thorson, the Treasury Department‘s inspector general, who has been working to oversee the bailout program until the newly created position of special inspector general is filled. “I don’t think anyone understands right now how we’re going to do proper oversight of this thing.”
In approving the rescue package, lawmakers trumpeted provisions in the legislation that established layers of independent scrutiny, including a special inspector general to be nominated by the White House and a congressional oversight panel to be named by lawmakers themselves.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson speaks during a news conference at the Treasury Building in Washington November 12, 2008. Paulson on Wednesday said he was backing away from buying troubled mortgage assets using a $700 billion bailout fund, instead favoring a second round of capital injections into financial institutions that would match private funds.(Mitch Dumke/Reuters)