Robert Reich is a tough grader. Overall, he gives Obama a C+ on the economy, but the tough score comes on bailouts:
I give them an F. I’m a big fan of this administration, but I’ve got to be honest. The bailouts are failing. So far American taxpayers have shoveled out almost $600 billion. Yet the banks are lending less money than they did five months ago. Their toxic assets and nonperforming loans are growing, bank executives are still taking home princely sums, and the banks are still cooking their books. And now the Treasury is talking about converting taxpayer dollars into bank equity, which exposes taxpayers to even greater losses.
And he doesn’t even talk about the tens of billions thrown away on the car company bailouts. One wonders why more Democrats, who aren’t supposed to like corporate welfare, aren’t joining with Reich (and Republicans and tea party protestors) to call for a halt to this.
In fairness to Congress, the Obama administration has steered clear of the appropriators and taken to running this out of the Fed. But if this is as big a waste of taxpayer money as it appears to be, then it’s time for Congress to reassert itself, demand oversight, and start passing some legislation to rein in bailout mania. That would be smart policy and smart politics. But perhaps the temptation to run roughshod over the private sector is too great to kick companies off the dole and tell them to sink or swim.