President Obama bragged this afternoon about 10 of the nation's largest banks repaying $68 billion in government bailout money.
"Taxpayer dollars were used to stabilize the financial system at a time of extraordinary stress. And these funds were also meant to be an investment -- and they were meant to be temporary. And that's why this morning's announcement is important," the president said at the White House.
"Several financial institutions are set to pay back $68 billion to taxpayers. And while we know that we will not escape the worst financial crisis in decades without some losses to taxpayers, it's worth noting that in the first round of repayments from these companies the government has actually turned a profit," he added.
"This is not a sign that our troubles are over -- far from it. The financial crisis this administration inherited is still creating painful challenges for businesses and families alike. And I think everybody sees it in their own individual districts. But it is a positive sign. We're seeing an initial return on a few of these investments. We're restoring funds to the Treasury where they'll be available to safeguard against continuing risks to financial stability. And as this money is returned, we'll see our national debt lessened by $68 billion -- billions of dollars that this generation will not have to borrow and future generations will not have to repay.
"I've said repeatedly that I have no interest in managing the banking system -- or, for that matter, running auto companies or other private institutions. So today's announcement is welcome news to me. But I also want to say the return of these funds does not provide forgiveness for past excesses or permission for future misdeeds. It's critical that as our country emerges from this period of crisis, that we learn its lessons; that those who seek reward do not take reckless risk; that short-term gains are not pursued without regard for long-term consequences."
The Treasury Department announced today that it has approved the repayments from the banks, which withdrew cash from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program created by Congress last October at the height of the financial crisis.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.