For example, you might remember that a couple of months ago, some financial institutions asked us to loan them a ten-spot or some other completely non-consequential amount of dough to cover some bills until they could cash a few checks. I believe that we were given some assurances that they would, and I quote, "totally pay us back."
So how's that going?
Lawmakers focused on a warning in a report last week from the Government Accountability Office, represented at the hearing by Gene Dodaro, the acting comptroller general. In that report, Mr. Dodaro’s office found that the Treasury does not yet have the tools in place to ensure that banks that are receiving federal money are lending it to consumers and small businesses.
“The anecdotal evidence is still overwhelming that there are people who think they are good borrowers who can’t get loans,” Mr. [Barney] Frank said.
I see. They still haven't paid what they owe, and we're not quite sure what they actually did with the money. Maybe the check's in the mail. Maybe they spent it on hookers and blow. Maybe the put it down on the bookshelf, then went and got completely baked and then totally forgot where they put it - hey, it happens to the best of us.
Mr. Frank warned him that Congress was unlikely to approve the next $350 billion installment in the overall $700 billion bailout program unless it was convinced the Treasury was effectively measuring lending by participating banks. To that end, Mr. Frank said, he has agreed to a request from lawmakers that he summon bank executives to explain how they are using federal money.
What a novel idea! Let's ask Stony McForgetsalot what he did with the tenner we loaned him! Brilliant!
In response, [Deputy Treasury Secretary] Kashkari drew a distinction between the conditions imposed on failing institutions as they were being rescued and strings tied to the money being injected into healthy banks to strengthen the financial system.
Whoa there - you're telling us some of those guys didn't actually need the money? That they were good to go, but just thought they'd ask to see if we'd be generous? Because you know, we could've really used that cash for, I dunno, food...
Mr. Kashkari, while polite, nevertheless stoutly defended the department’s efforts to stabilize the financial system, saying that the nation had avoided a major bank failure and that credit markets had shown some improvement.
Well la-dee-freakin'-da. They borrow our cash, do something with it, even though they have nothing to show for it, and then want us to be impressed that they didn't have to sell off their sweet Wii video game system. Yet.
The committee also heard from Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas and a member of the Congressional oversight panel monitoring the bailout, and Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor and the panel’s chairwoman.
The panel’s initial report, posing a set of questions it intended to explore as it studied the bailout program, was delivered on Wednesday without Mr. Hensarling’s endorsement.
He told the committee he did not endorse the report because he was not sure the oversight panel was working as he thought it should, though he commended it for its efforts. He wondered if “every panel member has the resources and rights necessary to conduct effective oversight.”
We're totally not getting our money back, are we?