Fate of TARP: Billions remain in bank

The government has tens of billions of dollars left in the eye-popping $700 billion bank bailout fund created last fall, prompting a debate in Congress over what to do with it. The question of what to do with the money will grow more pressing in coming months as Congress takes a step back to consider the fate of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

Lawmakers had rushed to approve the money in October 2008 as Wall Street sat on the brink of collapse. Since then, even as the economy continues to wobble and high unemployment threatens the prospects for a speedy recovery; major banks have repaid $70 billion in assistance and expressed growing optimism about their ability to function without government assistance.

The Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, estimated on Thursday that the government has about $328 billion left in the fund that hasn’t been spent or legally committed. According to GAO, the government has disbursed approximately $339 billion and promised $102 billion more. That leaves some $259 in the fund plus the $70 billion banks have repaid.

We note that TARP is set to conclude at the end of the year unless Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner extends it through fall 2010.The Treasury Department wants to keep the money at its disposal in case the economy gets worse. But fiscal conservatives want the money kept to pay down the national debt. While a group of liberal Democrats, say at least a portion of it should be spent to keep cash-strapped homeowners.

We are of the view that Tax payer’s money should be used in its best possible way to strengthen our economy, our people and society as a whole. There should be a check to ensure that no body dares to misuse the hard-earned money of tax-payers.