May 01 2009
We applaud Tennessee U.S. Sen. Bob Corker's latest efforts to add transparency and accountability for billions of dollars of taxpayer bailout money being given to banks.
Legislation introduced Thursday, jointly by Corker and Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., would add significant reporting requirements for banks receiving funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program passed late last year. A total of $787 billion was requested by former President George Bush and approved by Congress last fall as an emergency measure to prevent the collapse of America's financial system.
The first half of the money was released late last year with minimal voluntary reporting requirements on the part of banks. Many financial experts and members of Congress subsequently revealed great uncertainty about how the money was used by the banks. The second half of the TARP funds was released in January.
But a report from the Government Accountability Office released in January noted that oversight of TARP funds had improved, but the program still lacked an effective means of tracking how TARP money was used.
Corker and Pryor introduced the TARP Accountability Act in response to this lack of oversight. It would require the Treasury Department to provide detailed monthly reports on the use of TARP funds by the banks.
The Troubled Asset Relief Program was created and approved under emergency circumstances that allowed little time to fine tune details for how the money would be monitored by the government. But such an unprecedented investment by taxpayers demands closer scrutiny.
To his credit, Corker has been an advocate for closer oversight of TARP funds from the beginning. In the initial legislation he helped push for the money to be disbursed in two payouts to allow for a reevaluation of circumstances. When, in January, it came time to release the second half of the funds, Corker voted against the payout because the government failed to explain how the money would be used.
The TARP Accountability Act deserves to be passed, and quickly. Taxpayers deserve to know exactly where their money is going and how it is being used.
Copyright ©2009 Jackson Sun