The Troubled Asset Relief Program, approved during last fall's market meltdown, gave Washington authority to spend up to $700 billion to stabilize the financial system.
The question is whether TARP should continue beyond its current expiration date of Dec. 31. If Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner decides to extend it, it will live on until next October.
Geithner should allow it to lapse. Otherwise, the unobligated spending authority could morph into a slush fund.
Despite widespread objections, last fall Congress was right to take extraordinary steps. The financial sector appeared to be on the edge of collapse, an event that would have engulfed not only the Wall Street banks targeted by today's populists, but the entire economy.
TARP helped achieve stability. But it has proven an imperfect solution to a monumental problem.
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