A reader writes in with a point that had occurred to me too after reading this morning’s article in the Post about Geithner’s rejiggering of the TARP program — namely, separate from the ‘Stimulus Bill’ proper, there’s now a move afoot to reprogram the second half of TARP into something that looks a lot more like stuff you’d expect to find in a Stimulus Bill, rather than anything like what the program originally envisaged …
I agree that the stimulus package, as currently detailed, is insufficiently aggressive or imaginative. But most reports have been underestimating its size by $350 billion.
That’s because the second half of the TARP funds remain to be spent. The Washington Post reported this morning that the Obama team is planning to reprogram most of those funds. The new package will include spending a large amount of money spent on a foreclosure relief program, and a more tightly-focused approach to consumer credit markets.
No, it’s not technically a stimulus package. And yes, half the money has already been wasted. But there’s nothing in the stimulus package that has the potential to do as much as simply stemming the tide of foreclosures and stabilizing the real estate market. So it may well turn out that the most significant part of any turnaround comes not from passing new programs, but from spending the TARP funds in a way that will actually make a difference.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.