Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe is calling on his fellow Senators to freeze the remaining TARP money:
During the lame duck session, I will be taking the following actions. First and foremost, if Secretary Paulson submits his plan to Congress in order to access the remaining $350 billion while we are in session, a doubtful prospect, I plan to immediately introduce the disapproval resolution pursuant to Section 115 of the EESA and push for its enactment. I will also introduce and actively pursue enactment of legislation to do two things: First, it will amend Section 115 of the Emergency Economic stabilisation Act of 2008 (EESA) to require an affirmative vote on the part of Congress to approve Treasury’s plan for the remaining $350 billion, instead of the current statutory process which gives Secretary Paulson far too much latitude. Second, it will require a freeze on any remaining funds of the first $350 billion. It is imperative that we not allow that amount of money to be added to a deficit approaching $1 trillion this year without any input from the legislative branch.
Inhofe opposed the TARP the first time, so he can make noise like this and not get called an opportunist. But how will his fellow Senators react? Since the plan was first enacted, Hank’s stock has cratered, and several Congressmen have come out swinging, saying they were misled into supporting a plan to buy toxic assets.
Inhofe is giving them a chance to put up or shut up, as they say. If they think they were misled into supporting a bad scheme, then they should try to stop it.
We’re guessing Inhofe won’t find too many allies on this one, as unpopular as the TARP is. As it is, politicians are off the hook for their vote, since the scheme has been changed. They like that. Having to decide again whether or not they support the plan puts them back on the hook. Imagine if they froze the remaining $350 billion and the market tanked! If they vote to release the money, then they have to bear responsibility again.
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