The White House finds itself in a pickle: How to extend the TARP bank bailout without so enraging voters that incumbent Dems get the heave-ho next year.
And here’s one creative solution on the table: Use the rest of the TARP to reduce the national debt!
Doesn’t that sound good?
Well, of course it does. Except that it’s ridiculous spin. The government borrowed money for the TARP. Using what remains to “reduce the national debt” would simply mean giving our lenders (some of) their money back.
Meanwhile, however, other legislators are desperate NOT to return the TARP money to lenders but to use it for additional stimulus–this time of the allegedly job-creating variety.
David Cho, Michael D. Shear and Lori Montgomery, WaPo: The Obama administration is poised to extend the life of the highly unpopular $700 billion financial bailout and, to display a commitment to fiscal responsibility, is planning to use much of the leftover funds to reduce the national debt, government sources said.
Administration officials are grappling with how best to announce the extension of the Troubled Assets Relief Program at a time when the economy is struggling and the unemployment rate is at its highest point in 26 years. The officials are hoping that by putting roughly $200 billion toward paying down the $12 trillion national debt, they could mitigate the political fallout, the sources said.
No final decision about the fate of the bailout has been made, and officials are keenly aware that their preferred course contains risks.
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