George Graham

I Think I Know What Happened to Some of Those Bailout Billions

There’s so much money unaccounted for in the bank bailout shell game that no one will ever know where it all went. Just as they did in the Iraq War, the people in charge of America’s currency bundled up bags of loot and shipped it here and there without a shred of accountability. In the Iraq operation, money was physically shipped out in plastic bags, never to be heard of again. In the more sophisticated bank job, the transfers were made at computers. But the result was the same. Vast sums of money vanished into thin air. Now, the elected representatives who let this happen are looking for answers.

Writing for McClatchy Newspapers, journalist Chris Adams reported today:

Despite a new oversight panel, a new special inspector general, the existing Government Accountability Office and eight other inspectors general, those charged with minding the store say they don’t have all the weapons they need. Ten months into the Troubled Asset Relief Program, some members of Congress say that some oversight of bailout dollars has been so lacking that it’s essentially worthless.

“TARP has become a program in which taxpayers are not being told what most of the TARP recipients are doing with their money, have still not been told how much their substantial investments are worth, and will not be told the full details of how their money is being invested,” a special inspector general over the program reported last month. The “very credibility” of the program is at stake, (the report) said.

robberyTo those of us who were around in the 1980s, this is deja vu all over again. I am sure you will remember how investigative journalists summed up the Savings & Loans scandal after the dust had settled. Organized crime figures with CIA connections were identified as major players. And the highest levels of government were implicated.

Naturally, I have no evidence to prove that crooks engineered the most recent financial “crisis” to line their own pockets. But it seems obvious to me that then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and his pals in the Bush Administration (and other haunts of privilege and power like Goldman Sachs) pulled the wool over the eyes of easily panicked members of Congress. The bailout enriched assorted financial institutions in the United States and abroad, as well as individuals – like those AIG “counterparties” who bought insurance policies on securities they knew to be rotten and who struck it rich once the securities failed and the government paid off the policies.

I can’t wait for the books to come out, telling us just how this most-recent scam was perpetrated. In the meantime, Americans are losing their jobs and families are losing their homes. Mothers are scavenging at soup kitchens for scraps to feed their kids,  and nearly 50 million Americans have no health insurance because – conservatives insist – “we can’t afford it.”

The richest country in the world cannot afford to put its men and women to work or ensure that families have food and health insurance. Yet there are trillions of dollars available for “bailouts” and pointless wars. It must be the Devil that makes the country’s politicians act the way they do.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for