House Financial Services Committee ranking Republican Spencer Bachus of Alabama and Texas GOPer Jeb Hensarling think a year is too long for their panel to go without a full oversight hearing on the Treasury Department’s increasingly troubled management of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
Hensarling is the ranking Republican on the panel’s Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, and he is a former member of the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP.
In a letter to Rep. Barney Frank, the ebullient and combative Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the committee, Bachus and Hensarling point to the current controversy over a General Motors television advertising spot in which the automaker’s chairman, Ed Whitacre, claims the company has repaid its government bailout loan “in full, with interest, ahead of schedule.”
In fact, the GM repayment was made using other TARP funds given to the automaker as part of its $49.5 billion bailout. This raises multiple questions that ought to be addressed by the committee in an oversight hearing, according to Bachus and Hensarling:
“Have Treasury and GM provided accurate information to the taxpayer in publicizing GM’s loan repayment and the status of outstanding the taxpayer investment in GM? Have Treasury and GM made statements portraying GM as a profitable company?
“Did GM use TARP funds to repay their government loan? Does the Administration plan to include GM under its TARP recoupment plan to recover losses incurred by the program?”
Other developments Bachus and Hensarling cite in their letter to Frank as reasons for convening a full oversight hearing include:
” On December 9 of last year, Secretary Geithner informed Congress of his decision to extend TARP despite multiple concerns about the lack of a credible exit strategy and the ultimate cost to taxpayers. The full Committee has not convened a hearing to examine these specific topics.
“On April 1, Treasury appointed two directors to the American International Group, Inc. (AIG) board of directors because AIG failed to pay dividends for four quarters on the AIG preferred stock held by Treasury. In addition, on April 20th Treasury announced that it had, for the first time, voted its approximately 7.7 billion shares of Citigroup.”
In addition, Bachus and Hensarling want the committee to examine the status of the Obama administration’s exit strategy from the TARP program, which has been a major target of citizen protests by the Tea Party movement, as well as which TARP programs “are expected to inflict the greatest losses on taxpayers, and how does the Obama administration plan to recover taxpayer losses incurred under TARP?