Administration officials were greeted with sarcasm and laughter Monday night when they briefed lawmakers and congressional staff on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s new financial-sector bailout project, according to people who were in the room.
The laughter was at its height when Obama officials explained that the White House planned to guarantee a wide swath of toxic assets — which they referred to as “legacy assets” — but wouldn’t be asking Congress for money. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), a bailout opponent in the fall, asked the officials to give Congress the total dollar figure for which they were on the hook. The officials said that they couldn’t provide a number, a response met by chuckling that was bipartisan, but tilted toward the GOP side.
Oh, and just a reminder about the 10 Republicans who voted for the tax cheat/wonder boy because he was so uniquely qualified — with iron-clad credibility — to do the job:
The stock market doesn’t think it’s funny:
Investors are frustrated with the government’s latest bank bailout plan — and showing it by unloading stocks.
The major stock indexes fell more than 4 percent Tuesday, including the Dow Jones industrial average, which tumbled 382 points. Financial stocks led the market lower, a sign of how concerned Wall Street is about the government’s ability to restore the health of the banking industry.
Traders and investors said the lack of specifics from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on how the government will direct more than $1 trillion in public and private support was troubling.
The plan is aimed at restoring proper functioning to credit markets, which seized up over worries about bad debt after the September bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The latest plan calls for a government-private sector partnership to help remove banks’ soured assets from their books. It would also boost an effort to unclog the credit markets that govern loans to consumers and businesses.
“The good news is they are going to spend a trillion dollars, the bad news is they don’t know how,” said James Cox, managing partner at Harris Financial Group.