TARP rollout has big issues, criticism from oversight groups

The Charlotte ObserverApril 10, 2009 

Six months after its creation, the Troubled Asset Relief Program still hasn't worked out its kinks.

TARP has struggled to clarify its purpose and organize its logistics, according to the three government groups in charge of overseeing the program. They say the Treasury Department, which administers TARP, is tight-lipped on some important matters, such as how officials decide which banks qualify for it. They complain that TARP doesn't have the staffing to make sure banks are complying with the rules attached to the money. There's even disagreement about how much money is actually left.

And that's not including the numerous ideological objections, which the government groups don't address.

The Treasury says it "has taken important steps" to resolve the complaints lodged recently by the Government Accountability Office, or GAO; the Congressional Oversight Panel; and the Special Inspector General of TARP. The latter two were created specifically to oversee TARP.

TARP's roots officially date to Friday, Oct. 3, when jittery lawmakers authorized what they called a banking bailout, worth $700 billion and loosely defined. In Charlotte, the news was overshadowed by Wells Fargo & Co.'s unexpected announcement that it would buy Wachovia Corp.

TARP marked a new era in the government's control over the private sector, and it's expanded beyond banks to include programs for automakers, hedge funds and other groups. This week, reports emerged that the government may extend the program to life insurance companies.

To read the complete article, visit www.charlotteobserver.com.

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