California 1st Congressional District congressman Mike Thompson voted Yes on H. R. 384, the TARP Reform and Accountability Act of 2009. TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program), you will recall, is the bailout program for United States banks, automobile manufacturers, and stockbrokers. The bill passed 260 to 166 with Democratic Party members mostly voting for it and Republican Party members mostly voting against it.
This appears to be a good Act that seeks to cure many of the shortcoming in the oversight of the TARP funds. The Congressional Research Service summary of H.R. 384 shows that it greatly increases the reporting the recipients of the fund must do. Generally, the funds have not resulted in increased lending by the recipients. Increased lending is needed to allow the economy to return to growth mode.
Part of the problem is that while TARP as passed was meant to buy up, at a discount, troubled assets such as mortgages and mortgage based securities. Then the George W. Bush administration did something different with the money, buying stock in several large banks. This infused the banks with cash, but did nothing to make troubled assets go away or more liquid. It was President Bush, too, who decided some of the money would go to auto makers.
The Reform act will not become law unless passed by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama. The Senate is busy finding reasons why it is okay that Obama's cabinet appointees tried to dodge their federal income tax obligation. Perhaps Barack will write you a note to the IRS if you are audited. All you need is his Blackberry email address.
No one is tackling the question of how to pay back all these loans the federal government is making against future revenues from taxpayers. That would require both raising taxes and lowering spending. Usually once a federal spending program gets started, it is very hard to stop.
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Mike Thompson is the current elected member of the United States House of Representatives for California's 1st Congressional District.