THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Bailout watchdog wants better answers

Associated Press / January 9, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Less than a month after its first report, a congressional panel overseeing the Treasury Department's $700 billion financial bailout is demanding more answers.

The panel's first report, released Dec. 10, included questions about how banks are spending taxpayer money, how the money will combat the rising tide of home foreclosures, and Treasury's overall strategy for the rescue.

But Treasury's Dec. 30 response "did not provide complete answers to several of the questions and failed to address a number of the questions at all," said the panel's second report, to be released today.

The new document cites an Associated Press investigation that found none of the banks were willing to disclose what they were doing with hundreds of billions of dollars distributed through direct injections of federal money.

"For Treasury to advance funds to these institutions without requiring more transparency further erodes the very confidence Treasury seeks to restore," the new report says.

The Congressional Oversight Panel is one of the few means of accountability provided under the bailout legislation.

Its second report opens with a note of frustration over Treasury's failure to respond to specific questions posed in the Dec. 10 memo.

Although the panel is engaged in its own research, it says, that "does not eliminate the need for Treasury to respond to the Panel's questions."

The panel's next official action is a public hearing Wednesday.

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