The White House's Illegal Piggy Bank
When the specifically targeted and named Troubled Asset Relief Program was enacted, we were told it was a necessary and wise investment. It would stabilize the financial system and keep credit and money moving. We would even get our money back and then some.
Many banks didn't want the money or need it. Some were told to take it or they'd be audited. So they took it. The banks, eager to break free from federal interference, paid the money back with some interest. The money was intended to be returned to the Treasury for deficit reduction. But an administration that touts a token discretionary spending freeze has no such intention.
This is more than government failing to keep a promise. This is a patently unconstitutional act, as Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire tried to point out to Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag on Monday over administration plans to transfer bailout funds to a new small-business loan program.
While President Obama was visiting Nashua, Gregg's birthplace, the senator took exception to Orszag's defense of the plan to funnel $30 billion of the paid-back TARP money into a program to provide credit to small businesses.
"This is the law," Gregg said, holding up the TARP guidelines he helped write in 2008. "Let me tell you what the law says. Let me read to you again, because you don't appear to understand the law. The law is very clear. The monies recouped from TARP shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury for the reduction of the public debt."
Gregg added that TARP was not a political slush fund, saying, "It's not for a piggy bank because you're concerned about lending to small businesses and you want to get a political event when you go out and make a speech" in Nashua...
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