The Treasury Department has decided to extend TARP funds to another industry: life insurers. Here's what I think: No one should be surprised that TARP funds will go to insurers. This is what happens when Congress blatantly violates the Constitution. The Constitution specifically says that only the Congress can spend tax dollars or money borrowed in the name of the taxpayers. In the TARP legislation of September 2008, Congress gave the Treasury Secretary a checking account with $700 billion in it, and let him spend it however he wants. Congress can no more let the Treasury spend however it wants than the President could let the Congress choose the Treasury secretary. The Constitution lays out the responsibilities and powers of the branches of the federal government, and they cannot swap powers, even by consent. Sec Paulson promised to use TARP to purchase "troubled assets" from banks; he did not. He bought bank stock that lost $80 billion in value within four months. President Bush, over Congress' objections, used TARP funds to make loans to auto manufacturers. Now Sec. Geithner wants to bail out insurance companies. It is clear that the public treasury has become a public trough; and the captains of industry cannot wait to get on line for their share. There is simply no constitutional authority and no rationale for taxpayers assuming private risk. There is also, apparently, no end to the risks to which Geithner will expose us.
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