NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 22, 2009

The government's top bailout watchdog says that the total price tag for federal support stemming from the financial crisis could reach $23.7 trillion in the long run.

The $23.7 trillion figure is admittedly a high-ball number and reflects the total potential gross exposure.  However, Neil Barofsky, the inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, in his prepared testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, notes that the TARP -- which started as a $700 billion bailout -- has expanded well beyond that figure:

  • TARP has evolved into a program of unprecedented scope, scale and complexity.
  • Moreover, TARP does not function in a vacuum but is rather part of the broader government efforts to stabilize the financial system
  • The total potential federal government support could reach up to $23.7 trillion
  • This figure factors in commitments from "dozens of programs" implemented throughout the federal government since 2007.

"The potential financial commitment the American taxpayers could be responsible for is of a size and scope that isn't even imaginable," Rep. Darrell Issa, ranking Republican on the oversight committee, said in a written statement.  "If you spent a million dollars a day going back to the birth of Christ, that wouldn't even come close to just $1 trillion -- $23.7 trillion is a staggering figure."

Source: Editorial, "Watchdog: Financial Bailout Support Could Reach $23.7 Trillion," Fox News, July 20, 2009.


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