Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday repeatedly praised the financial bailout as "one of the most effective emergency programs in financial history."
Geithner said the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) has become known as a "four letter word" but that it stabilized financial markets and cost taxpayers less than a tenth of its original $700 billion price tag.
"This is not just our program to eulogize. The Bush administration started the job. We finished it," Geithner said to Treasury Department officials.
"TARP was not perfect," he said. "But it has delivered in ways few could ever have imagined."
He argued that TARP helped stave off a second Great Depression. TARP has become one of the most controversial programs during the midterm elections, with Tea Party activists regularly lashing out at lawmakers who voted in support of the bailout.
Lawmakers in both parties who backed the TARP have either been defeated in primaries or face difficult general elections from opponents focused on that vote.
"But for all the baggage, there is something to embrace about TARP," Geithner said.