Saturday, January 10, 2009

Showdown looming over second $350 billion stimulus

What's another $350 billion? News that the Bush administration would ask Congress for the remaining $350 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program that Congress approved in October should come as no surprise. In the closing weeks of rule by the disgraced Republican leadership, we probably can expect a raft of moves to get even more money from even more people. After George W. Bush's performance, right-wing Republicans can't be sure they'll ever be in power again. But, before they go, let's look at the latest potential debacle. The Treasury Department wants another $350 billion for the financial system recovery, according to the Cable News Network (CNN), even though the administration doesn't know where the first $350 billion went or won't say. This seems like a slam-dunk. Nobody should get any more money until they account for what they've already received. That makes sense even if the current administration could be trusted. But Democratic leaders in Congress say they might not have enough votes to block administration efforts to get the additional money, CNN said. House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank has proposed placing restrictions on the use of the remaining $350 billion in TARP funds, including a requirement that Treasury use at least some of the money to help homeowners avert foreclosures. Foreclosure relief was left out of the first $350 billion, CNN said. Under the TARP program, Congress can block the second $350 billion by passing a resolution to that effect within 15 days of getting a formal request from the administration. But Bush could veto the resolution, allowing the money to be accessed unless a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress votes to override.

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