Obama, Bush seek more TARP funds
U.S. President George W. Bush holds his last news conference at the White House.
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TESS VIGELAND: Three-hundred-fifty billion down, 350 billion to go. Today in a game of high-stakes telephone, President-elect Barack Obama asked President Bush to ask Congress for the second half of the bailout money. But it's clear that banks will have to jump through a few more hoops to get the cash this time. No more unrestricted handouts. But there's an even more basic question underlying the latest TARP request: Do banks really need more taxpayer money?
Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer takes a look.
NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: When banks got the first half of the bailout cash, they took the money and . . . sat on it. They didn't lend it out. Now, the credit crunch is easing a bit. But that's at least partly because of behind-the-scenes maneuvers by the Fed. It's pumped billions of dollars into the banking system.
So, should President-elect Obama give any of the remaining bailout money to banks?
ALLEN SINAI: I hold up my hand and say, "Uh-uh, I don't want you do to that."
Allen Sinai is chief economist of the research firm Decision Economics.
SINAI: The banks won't lend it to the private sector. We won't get any benefit from it.
Diane Casey-Landry says that's not true. She's chief operating officer of the American Bankers Association. She says banks are just more picky about who they lend to.
DIANE CASEY LANDRY: You have to have the capacity to repay that loan. This is not intended as a giveaway program.
Casey-Landry says banks have increased their lending. She says any new Treasury money would be lent out. But consumer advocates say current loans are being used to refinance existing mortgages for those with good credit scores. The banks aren't helping struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure.
John Taylor heads the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. He says the banks won't help struggling consumers unless they're given an ultimatum.
JOHN TAYLOR: You must be willing to assist the government in modifying these loans, to match the borrower's ability to pay.
Economist Allen Sinai says the government has been too lenient with banks, so all Congress can do now is learn from its mistakes.
In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.