With almost $200 billion in federal bank bailout funds out the door and another $47 billion approved as of Dec. 22, the official U.S. Treasury Department position remains “trust us.”
The Troubled Asset Relief Program, that $700 billion bill that Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed in October, was intended to encourage banks to start extending credit again. But no one has tracked what the banks are doing with the money.
“Each financial institution’s circumstances are different, making comparisons challenging at best, and it is difficult to track where individual dollars flow through an organization,” said Treasury official Neel Kashkari earlier this month, according to Propublica.org, an investigative news site that is tracking bailout funds.
But that ‘s more than Curt Hecker, CEO of Intermountain Community Bancorp, pictured above, is saying.
Hecker, whose Sandpoint-based bank is the only Idaho bank to receive bailout funds to date—$27 million—did not return repeated phone calls to citydesk over the course of a week.
Intermountain, a holding company for Panhandle State Bank, the largest locally owned state bank in Idaho, applied for the TARP money and was approved Nov. 7.
“Our concern in this is what are we getting for the money? There’s no requirement for the banks to lend the money,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, which is researching each of the banks that has taken bailout money.