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Bailout status report: Paulson has spent the first $350 billion, must ask Congress for second $350 billion


After allocating $20 billion to a Federal Reserve consumer lending facility announced on Tuesday, the Treasury has just $20 billion to spend before it must return to Congress for permission to access a second $350 billion in the program.

So, maybe it's time for a midcourse correction. Let's review. They're using our money, taxpayer money. How have things worked out so far? Any lessons learned?

For the American people, things have not worked out.

1. Credit has not been unfrozen (which was the ostensible purpose of the bailout; see Title I of the legislation).

2. Trust in the markets has not been restored.

3. We don't even know who got the money.

4. We still don't know how big the Big Shitpile is.

For Big Money, things have worked out fine, just fine:

1. The bankers who created the mess continue to receive billions in salaries and bonuses.

2. The bankers are hoarding the money, or, through acquisitions, creating even more institutions that will be too big to fail.

3. The process continues to lack transparency.

4. The program is riddled with conflicts of interest.

5. The bailout programs of which TARP is a part amount to a financial dictatorship*.

World GDP is about $44 trillion a year. The bailouts amount to around $2 trillion, so we've given one man, Hank Paulson, control over a measurable fraction of the world economy, while not holding him accountable for anything. Meanwhile, the intellectually and morally corrupt gang of tricksters and thieves who created the crash continue on their merry way, completely unremorseful for selling toxic waste to fools. Well, done all. Because, after all, nobody could have predicted....

Please, Congress. And Democrats. When you go back in session, please follow Nouriel Roubini's advice and give help to the people who need it for the winter: Food stamps, unemployment benefits, and aid to state and local governments, who are having to shut down programs just when people need them the most. And on the bailout? Stop pouring water into a bucket that's got a hole in the bottom!

NOTE Let's remember that the bailout -- the Bush + Reid + Pelosi + Obama + Paulson bailout bill, or TARP -- is a creation of the entire Village; Obama owns it just as much as the rest of 'em. The Big Give was and is a truly bipartisan effort carried on in the spirit of unity. Obama is being consulted as the process evolves, and Obama, the leader of the Democratic Party, worked the phones to secure its passage.

NOTE * There's no single place to look for a bottom line on the bailout. Of the estimated $2 trillion so far, only the $700 billion for TARP has any form of accountability at all -- the unitary executive will continue at least 'til the end of the Bush administration -- and $350 billion of that was gone before Congress even managed to appoint the members of the review panel that the TARP legislation mandated. The panel's members aren't bad at all, but it looks to me like they'll be regulating how the barn door is closed, cleaning up after the Unity Pony, and not much else.

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