Skip to content

Reichert Opening Statement: Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on Federal Borrowing and the Use of Federal Monies

March 19, 2009


Thank you, Chairman Lewis.

I’d first like to recognize the absence of our Ranking Member onOversight, Dr. Boustany, whose father passed away earlier this week. The thoughts and prayers of all of our committee members are with himand his family.

The Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, was intended to open upcredit for families and businesses, but it was also supposed to restoreconfidence in the market. 

Yet every week brings new questions and new concerns about how thesetax dollars are spent, from the millions for AIG bonuses and sparetreats to the billions that simply went missing.

Worse, TARP continues to change and multiply before our eyes.  Frombuying toxic assets to buying stakes in banks, there is no clear planand no consistent application of the program.  Those involved have noidea if, how, or when TARP will change… or change again.

One particularly troubling change is the apparent transfer ofauthority from Treasury to the Federal Reserve, without any newcongressional oversight.

The complete lack of transparency in TARP has produced a credibilitycrisis that undermines the very confidence it was meant to restore. Without transparency, investors have little reason to participate in aprogram that changes faster than the Dow.  Without transparency, we areleft with outrageous abuses like bailout bonuses for companiessurviving on the backs of taxpayers alone.

To restore confidence, two things must be made clear: (1) exactlyhow TARP money is being spent; and (2) what specific metrics Treasurywill use to measure the effectiveness of the program.

Taxpayers have every right to be angry that the results of the $700billion bailout are as blank as the check that authorized it.

We have an obligation to them to find answers, to collect facts anddata, and to hold accountable the policies and people that led toabuses like those at AIG.

We can all agree that TARP money has been misspent.  Our options areto stay mad at wrong-doers, or to identify how the wrongdoing occurredand find solutions so it never happens again.

We must also remember that the lack of transparency andaccountability in TARP happened in the first place because Congressacted on raw emotion before looking at all of the facts.  That’s one ofmany reasons why I opposed it.  We must be careful not to let ourcollective outrage prevail over good judgment and common sense.

After all, we all know the mistakes that can happen when governmentpanics and rushes to act, rather than working to get that actionright.  This is not the time to again shoot first and ask questionslater.

I hope that we can all work together, Democrats and Republicans, toget to the bottom of this, to get real answers, and to stop theabuses.  The American taxpayers deserve it.

I yield back the balance of my time.