Bailouts to Hit $23.7 Trillion, TARP Chief Says

WASHINGTON — The federal government has devoted $4.7 trillion to help the financial sector through its crisis, a level of assistance equal to about one-third of the overall U.S. economy, a watchdog report said Monday.

Under the worst of circumstances, the report said, the government’s maximum exposure could total nearly $24 trillion, or $80,000 for every American.

The figures are part of a tough new quarterly report to Congress from special inspector general Neil Barofsky, who accuses the Treasury Department of repeatedly failing to adopt recommendations aimed at making one component of the government financial rescue effort more accountable and transparent.

Playing hide-and-seek with taxpayers:

In his report, Barofsky says Treasury has accepted some of his recommendations for greater accountability, but says the department has not taken steps to require all TARP recipients to report on their actual use of funds. He said Treasury also should report the values of its investments in banks and other financial institutions, disclose the identity of borrowers under a nonrecourse loan program and disclose trading activity under a public-private investment fund.

Barofsky says Treasury’s inaction means taxpayers have not been told what the financial institutions that have received assistance are doing with the money.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the top Republican in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said that by not adopting Barofsky’s recommendation, Treasury is contradicting President Barack Obama’s vows to increase government accountability.

“I don’t know how you can justify hiding from the American people how their tax dollars are being spent,” Issa said.

More at the link.