They may be well-intentioned, but the so-called Tea Party protestors don't get it, says The Wall Street Journal.
Although U.S. taxpayers will bear the burden of the government bailout, the anti-tax, anti-spending protestations of the Tea Party movement are based on misinformation, writes the newspaper’s David Weidner in a column.
The government has not yet levied new taxes to cover bailout costs, and most of the cash rescue packages available to banks have either gone unclaimed or are being paid back, Weidner says.
Therefore, the Tea Party protest is aimed at a problem that does not yet exist.
Confirming the facts is an easy matter. One is ProPublica, an investigative journalism Web site., which tracks government bailout programs and their recipients, citing actual dollar amounts already paid out.
Uncle Sam expects to spend some $2.4 trillion over the next couple of quarters to fuel the country's economic engine. But the actual amount out the door so far are far smaller — a few hundred billion — and most charge interest on the loans.
"If the economy does recover within the year, we'll have spent a lot to rescue the financial system, but nowhere close to the 14-digit figure flogged by tea party protesters," writes Weidner.
Furthermore, Federal Reserve and Treasury Department data indicates that the U.S. will not spend that much money because "many of the 26 bailout programs aren't being used much," Weidner maintains.
The latest Congressional Budget Office estimate on the net cost to taxpayers or the bailouts is $356 billion, based on declining value of some securities Treasury bought in the first round of bank rescues.
Of course, that presumes the stock Treasury took would be sold immediately. If bank stocks recover significantly, the taxpayer could conceivably gain.
Comparatively, the final taxpayer cost of the much smaller savings-and-loan crisis of the late 1980s came to $160.1 billion.
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