TARP, the U.S. government's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, has become a slush fund, said Sen. Bob Corker, (R-Tenn.).
Corker, a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, told the annual meeting of the Tennessee Mortgage Bankers Association in Chattanooga that the executive branch can spend TARP money any way it wants.
"It (disbursement of funds and transparency requirements) has not been carried out the way it should have," Corker said in his address to the mortgage bankers, quoted in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Despite his criticism of how TARP money is currently being handled, Corker said passage of legislation authorizing the bailout fund probably averted collapse of the financial system.
TARP legislation, requested by former President George W. Bush, was approved by Congress late in 2008.
Last month, Corker and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) introduced legislation that would impose strict mandatory reporting requirements for banks who receive TARP funds.
Their proposed bill, the TARP Accountability Act, is designed to plug gaps in the oversight rules which track the billions of bucks the government is passing out and how that money is spent.
Such stepped up oversight is a necessity, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office, released in January.
On this issue, even billionaire hedge fund manager and philanthropist George Soros would agree with Corker.
The TARP program has been carried out in a "haphazard and capricious way" and "without proper planning," Soros said earlier this year.
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