“The total potential federal government support could reach up to $23.7 trillion,” says Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, in a new report obtained Monday by ABC News on the government’s efforts to fix the financial system.
Yes, $23.7 trillion.
“The potential financial commitment the American taxpayers could be responsible for is of a size and scope that isn’t even imaginable,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “If you spent a million dollars a day going back to the birth of Christ, that wouldn’t even come close to just $1 trillion — $23.7 trillion is a staggering figure.”
Granted, Barofsky is not saying that the government will definitely spend that much money. He is saying that potentially, it could.
At present, the government has about 50 different programs to fight the current recession, including programs to bail out ailing banks and automakers, boost lending and beat back the housing crisis.
Now think about this:
The annual gross domestic product of the United States is just over $14 trillion.
Oversight? An anticuated concept:
And Barofsky points out the at the non-TARP programs, which are far larger than the TARP itself, do not come with the strings that the high-profile TARP money itself comes with, including executive compensation, and they don’t necessarily require congressional approval. And beyond the ability to tally their costs, Barofsky has no authority as an auditor over the non-TARP programs.
Stacy explains who is Barofsky:
While AmeriCorps IG Gerald Walpin made headlines Friday with his lawsuit, this week the IG spotlight is on SIGTARP — Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Wall Street bailout rushed through Congress last October. Monday, Barofsky issued a report accusing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner of “rejecting ‘common sense’ by not requiring banks receiving billions of dollars in government money to say how they are using the money.”
Unlike Walpin and two other ex-IGs whose cases are involved in the smoldering scandal known as “IG-Gate,” SIGTARP is still on the job. However, last month, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent Geithner a stern letter asking about “a dispute over certain Treasury documents that were being withheld from SIGTARP auditors on a specious claim of attorney-client privilege.”
Clearly, Barofsky’s office is experiencing the same kind of obstructions and pressures that other IGs have encountered since the Obama administration brought “The Chicago Way” to Washington. With Democrats on a deficit spending spree, watchdogs like Barofsky are the last line of defense against wholesale fraud and corruption in the use of taxpayer dollars.
Go read the rest of Stacy’s post.
I’ll be on the road for the next two days. Posting will be sporadic, but keep an eye out for a Tuesday night tango.