I've only ever half-believed the axiom, "You have tospend money to make money."
Perhaps because thus far, I've done precious little ofthe latter and a lot of the former.
So my question would be, if we want to get spending anddeficits under control, why is the wildly unpopular and in my opinion,unproven, bailout program being extended until October?
This time, however, the providers of taxpayer largesseinsist it will be different, never mind the fact that two of the key bailoutprograms - those afforded to insurer AIG and to Detroit's automakers - lostmore that $60 billion according to a report from the GAO.
In fact, the total losses from the bailout program aresaid to be more than $140 billion.
Last week, the Congressional Oversight Panel unveiled itsassessment of the TARP program with a sort of good news-bad news dissertation.
While admitting that it helped stabilize the financialinfrastructure somewhat, it did exactly nothing to bolster lending.
As one whose better half has underwritten mortgages fornearly a quarter-century, I can tell you that many of our family's dinnertimeconversations are laced with colorful invectives on how banks are not lending -no matter how many stories with a positive spin appear in the businesssections.
A portion of the new and improved bailout proceeds willreportedly go towards helping homeowners avoid foreclosure and assisting smallbusinesses with getting much-needed loans.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said that the Treasurydoes not expect to loan more than $550 billion this time around. And while someof the larger recipients of TARP funds have since written checks to pay downtheir substantial IOUs, Geithner admitted that the administration does notexpect all TARP money to be returned.
The administration initially wanted any TARP savings tobe put toward deficit reduction, a strategy for which any U.S. resident with anIQ over 100 would certainly be lauding. But as one lawmaker questioned, isthere really such a thing as "excess" TARP money since basically it'sall borrowed?
My problem with the bailout extension is the danger ofwhat the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York once described as a"cycle of dependency," when referring to the welfare system.
There will always be the perception - particularly forlarger financial institutions termed, "too big too fail" - that thegovernment will be there, check in hand.
Just as I wonder why companies in all industries remainconvinced that they can cut their way to prosperity despite a mountain ofevidence against it, you cannot spend your way out.
Trust me, I've tried.
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