As investors and financial experts try to make sense of last week's roller coaster ride on Wall Street, members of Congress are busy hammering out the details of the Treasury Department's proposal to spend up to $700 billion absorbing suspect mortgage-based assets from private firms. POGO doesn't take a position on the causes of or the solutions to the recent economic meltdown. But if there is going to be a bailout, we believe it is essential that the plan be conducted with full openness and transparency.
POGO has joined a growing coalition of groups from across the political spectrum, including our good friends at the National Taxpayers Union, in opposing certain sections of the bailout plan that would allow the Treasury Secretary to make sweeping decisions while hiding behind a veil of secrecy. We're particularly concerned with section 2(b)(2), which would grant the Secretary the authority to enter into contracts "without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts," and with section 8, which would make the Secretary's decisions non-reviewable "by any court of law or any administrative agency."
As we've argued in the past, it is exactly this type of secrecy that got us into trouble in the first place. If taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill for the government's bailout scheme, Congress should at least disclose the details of the Treasury Department's activities. And while we're at it, Danielle just yelled down the hall to make sure I mention that the bailout plan should in no way pay for any compensation for the Wall Street executives who got us into this mess.
-- Michael Smallberg