Fool Me Once …

The Treasury Department indicated yesterday that it only had $15 billion left of the first $350 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and the Senate confirmed Neil Barofsky as special inspector general at the Treasury.

These are significant milestones in efforts to manage the economic and financial crisis weighing on businesses and consumers alike. While I am the first person to acknowledge that there is no quick or easy solution that will cure the global and domestic financial ills, I at least want the reassurance that the allocation of the next $350 billion will be more productive, less controversial and more consistent with common, shared goals.

In contrast, Round 1 is tainted by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson giving Congress, the administration, Wall Street and the American public one of the greatest and most expensive head fakes in history. Paulson had everyone believing that he was very focused and very much in charge.

Well, we all know what happened next. In the wake of Paulson’s actions, I hope that Congress and the administration are not too gun-shy to tackle tough issues in a quick and decisive manner.

So Congress, I ask you not to let one bad apple spoil the crop at a time we need you to be more decisive than ever. And Barofsky, you know that your hands will be full while being subjected to tremendous scrutiny. Our shared goal in Round 2 is to keep Paulson honest and in check while ensuring that the TARP program delivers the much-needed help it was intended to provide.


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