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  • The Troubled Asset Relief Program, TARP, has become one of the symbols critics of government interventionism in the free market rally behind when illustrating the effects of government control. It is interesting to compare the beliefs people have about TARP with the facts. Whether you agree with government intervention in the free market or not, you are probably interested in separating myth from reality. After all, as a country, we have a colorful history of misunderstandings. For instance, scary percentages of the public still think there is a direct link with the Irak war and the September 11th  attacks, that public healthcare is solely for communist countries and that Obama is a Muslim or not an American.

    Many believe TARP was part of Obama’s strategy to take over more power for the government. Although, Republicans and Democrats do vary on their view of public spending, TARP cannot be blamed on Obama or the Democratic party, not entirely anyway. TARP was created before Obama took office. President Bush committed nearly $300 billion for TARP. This money was allocated for three quarters of the banking sector, two of the three big automobile manufacturing companies and the huge insurance company AIG. The creation of TARP by the Republican Bush Administration helped, in the opinion of both Democrat and Republican economists avoid an entire financial collapse in the United States. Some economists claim that if TARP had not been put into action the economy would have fallen into a recession only comparable to that of the Great Depression.

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    TARP was also used to fund the Home Affordable Modification  Program, which has helped hundreds of thousands of homeowners to save an average of $500 on their monthly mortgage payments.

    Of course, what is true is that once the Obama Administration took power, the $300 billion became $700 billion. These figures are enough to make any taxpayer dizzy, especially when headlines highlight the bonuses banking executives enjoy while their companies are given a free ride with taxpayers money. There is no denying TARP cost the American people. Even the most optimistic estimates put the cost of TARP ant $50 billion. However, the cost is not even close to the $300 billion first allocated to TARP.

    AIG General Motors and the majority of the financial institutions that received TARP loans and bailouts are on track to return the money invested by TARP. According to Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury AIG and General Motors have put in place a restructuring plan to accelerate the repayment of TARP loans and TARP will only cost less than 10 percent of what was initially estimated.


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