The Treasury is caught between the rock of the financial sector’s problems and the hard place of populist outrage.  From the Washington Post, Administration Seeks an Out On Bailout Rules for Firms

The Obama administration is engineering its new bailout initiatives in a way that it believes will allow firms benefiting from the programs to avoid restrictions imposed by Congress, including limits on lavish executive pay, according to government officials.

Administration officials have concluded that this approach is vital for persuading firms to participate in programs funded by the $700 billion financial rescue package.

The administration believes it can sidestep the rules because, in many cases, it has decided not to provide federal aid directly to financial companies, the sources said. Instead, the government has set up special entities that act as middlemen, channeling the bailout funds to the firms and, via this two-step process, stripping away the requirement that the restrictions be imposed, according to officials.

…The administration has decided that the conditions should not apply in at least three of the five initiatives funded by the rescue package.

Congress is clueless, as usual:

This strategy has so far attracted little scrutiny on Capitol Hill, and even some senior congressional aides dealing with the financial crisis said they were unaware of the administration’s efforts. Just two weeks ago, Congress erupted in outrage over bonuses being paid at American International Group, with some lawmakers faulting the administration for failing to do more to safeguard taxpayers’ interests.

Why not?  It works for drug cartels:

Legal experts said the Treasury’s plan to bypass the restrictions may be unlawful.

“They are basically trying to launder the money to avoid complying with the plain language of the law,” said David Zaring, a former Justice Department attorney who defended the government from lawsuits involving related legal issues. “They are trying to create a loophole to ignore Congress, and I think the courts will think that it’s ridiculous.”

The federal watchdog agency overseeing the bailout is looking into the matter, trying to determine whether the Treasury’s actions are legal.

Hey, it’s the Chicago way.

Why is the Administration going to such lengths to pump money into the private sector?  One man’s opinion:

I must be naive. I really thought the administration would welcome the return of bank bailout money. Some $340 million in TARP cash flowed back this week from four small banks in Louisiana, New York, Indiana and California. This isn’t much when we routinely talk in trillions, but clearly that money has not been wasted or otherwise sunk down Wall Street’s black hole. So why no cheering as the cash comes back?

My answer: The government wants to control the banks, just as it now controls GM and Chrysler, and will surely control the health industry in the not-too-distant future. Keeping them TARP-stuffed is the key to control. And for this intensely political president, mere influence is not enough. The White House wants to tell ’em what to do. Control. Direct. Command.

It is not for nothing that rage has been turned on those wicked financiers. The banks are at the core of the administration’s thrust: By managing the money, government can steer the whole economy even more firmly down the left fork in the road.

If the banks are forced to keep TARP cash — which was often forced on them in the first place — the Obama team can work its will on the financial system to unprecedented degree. That’s what’s happening right now.

Hole in one.

“In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” –James Madison, Federalist No. 51

Thanks to Daily Beast

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