Rep. Chris Lee read his first speech on the House floor last night to "urge Congress not to rubber stamp another $350 million in taxpayer funds for the struggling Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)," according to a statement released by his office this morning. TARP is the official name for the financial assistance package put together by the Fed last year to purchase the infamous "toxic assets" in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis—better known to all of us as: the bailout.
(A quick aside here: Does anyone else see the irony in the acronym? Sure, a tarp can be strung over some poles and shade the backyard crew for a summer barbecue. But isn't a tarp more commonly found in the cluttered garage thrown over the broken lawnmower and the 80 pounds of manure still waiting to fertilize the garden out back that hasn't pushed out a bud in half a dozen seasons? Am I pushing this metaphor too far?)
We've decided to include the full text of Lee's speech here for you to glean from what you will. I'll keep my opinion out of this one. You can also view a poorly synched video of Lee delivering the speech, if you're not in the mood to read right now.
“Taxpayer dollars must be spent with accountability and transparency. To date, the Troubled Asset Relief Program – commonly known as TARP – has failed to meet this common-sense standard of fiscal responsibility.
“TARP was established last fall as an emergency plan to prop up the ailing financial markets. But today, we have far more questions than answers.
“Taxpayers have already lost $64 billion on the first round of investments made through TARP.
“The new administration has asked this Congress to double down on TARP and rubber stamp another $350 billion without credible assurances of future results.
“With a $1.2 trillion deficit on the books and a nearly $1 trillion stimulus package looming, these are resources we cannot afford to spend without responsible oversight.
“Western New York’s economy is in a perilous state. What we need right now is swift, bipartisan action that creates jobs and spurs future growth, not another bloated Washington program that overpromises and underdelivers.
“I hope my colleagues will reject any attempt to rubber stamp the TARP program and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, not wastefully.”