Posted on | July 27, 2012 | 22 Comments
That’s how the 2008 TARP bailout is described by Neal Barofsky, the former special inspector general (“SIGTARP”) who was responsible for investigating how the funds were spent.
Did you know, for example, that the Treasury Department still owns 61% of the “too-big-to-fail” insurance giant AIG, and that bailout recipients still owe taxpayers more than $100 billion?
Those are a few of the unpleasant facts Barofsky details in his new book, Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street.
Before TARP failed as policy, it first failed as politics, with John McCain’s panicky announcement — Sept. 24, 2008 — that he would fly back to Washington to push for passage of the bailout. As I explained two weeks later, this was the decision that ensured Obama’s election:
An L.A. Times poll found 55 percent opposed a taxpayer-funded financial bailout; an Associated Press poll found only 30 percent supporting the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
Why such widespread opposition? According to a CNN poll, 77 percent believed the bailout would benefit those who had caused the financial problems in the first place.
As with immigration reform in 2006 and 2007, McCain’s pro-bailout stance made him the most prominent advocate of an unpopular proposal. His attempt to push for quick passage of the measure was rebuffed. A Sept. 25 White House conference reportedly turned into a “contentious shouting match,” and the bailout bill was defeated Sept. 29 in the House, with most Republicans voting against it. . . .
[B]y siding with [Bush] on an issue that voters identified as favoritism toward Wall Street, the Republican cemented in the public mind a message that Team Obama had been promoting for months: A vote for McCain would mean a third term for George W. Bush. . . .
It was McCain’s outspoken support for the unpopular bailout — a big-government intervention incompatible with conservative economic philosophy — that handed the election to Obama.
Michelle Malkin was among the most outspoken conservative opponents of the bailout, and deserves credit for having been right when so many Republicans — not just John McCain — were wrong.
Obama also supported the TARP bailout, and every other bailout and “stimulus” that Democrats could come up with, and what did taxpayers get for all those billions? Not a recovery. (Hat-tips: Instapundit, Memeorandum.) Reacting to today’s bad economic news, Mitt Romney’s policy director Lahnee Chen issued this memo:
This Sunday marks 100 days until Election Day. Poll after poll shows us that jobs and the economy are the most important issues on the minds of the American people. Voters will be asking themselves a simple question: Which candidate is best equipped to finally get our economy back on the right track?
Under President Obama, the economy continues to weaken. Today’s GDP estimate, which revealed that our economy grew by a paltry 1.5% last quarter, is only the latest sign that we are moving in the wrong direction. Some economists have expressed fears that we are heading toward a period of zero growth — or worse. America’s jobless rate has been over 8% for 41 straight months and is likely to remain chronically high for the foreseeable future. The number of Americans living in poverty is at record levels. China has overtaken the United States in manufacturing for the first time ever. All the while, our national debt climbs higher and higher, leaving a multi-trillion dollar unpaid bill for future generations.
President Obama has no one but himself to blame for the state of our economy. Shortly after taking office, he promised to turn things around in three years or he’d be looking at a “one-term proposition.” He said he welcomed the responsibility of solving the serious problems our country faces. But he has not solved them. Now, instead of solutions and substance, the Obama campaign will offer little more than diversions and distractions over the next 100 days. Since the President can’t run on his record, this is all his campaign can do.
Americans are too smart — and too tired of politics as usual — to be fooled by this. They know President Obama has had enough time to live up to the promise of his last campaign. They know they aren’t better off than they were four years ago. Most importantly, they know they have the final say — and a clear choice.
In Mitt Romney, the American people will find someone who has the kind of personal strengths and professional experience they are looking for. As a businessman, and later as governor, he compiled a record of promoting innovative solutions, turning around struggling enterprises, and creating jobs. Unlike President Obama, he has a comprehensive plan to unleash the potential of the American economy and give hope to middle-class families that are struggling. He knows the power of free enterprise and free people — and he believes small-business owners and entrepreneurs deserve every last bit of credit for serving as the backbone of America’s economy.
From Day One of his presidency, Mitt Romney will be focused on job creation and economic growth. He will lead where President Obama has not, and he will succeed where President Obama has failed. Just over 100 days from now, the change we need will finally arrive.