What makes me think Barney Frank is behind this?
Maybe it’s the way the Washington Post writers said the following:
“In a move being coordinated with the Obama transition team, senior Bush administration officials are preparing to ask lawmakers for the second half of the $700 billion financial rescue package, despite intense opposition in Congress”
“The initiative, if it goes ahead, could create an unusual political straddle between the Bush and Obama administrations. If Congress were to vote down the measure, either President Bush or Obama might have to exercise a veto in order to get the money. While Obama officials prefer that current administration issue a veto, the White House is declining to address that question.”
Reading between the lines, this is an obvious set up by the Bush administration, conspiring with the incoming Obama administration, to extend its desired use of the remaining TARP funds (no small sum: $350 billion) as it originally agreed with the Congress it negotiated with. This might seem like a distinction without a difference given the makeup of the new Congress (Democrats retained and increased power) compared to the makeup of the current Congress. The back story, as I have noted before is that House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank is not, and has never been, happy with the way the massive TARP legislation turned out because it gave immense power to the Secretary of the Treasury (I believe Lord Acton would have described it as absolute power) and much less to Congress.
The present dilemma seems to highlight what I predicted in the Frank Back on Top post….how much power will the new Treasury Secretary actually have in the distribution of the remaining TARP funds? It appears that the Bush administration has played its hand in favor of the Executive Office appointment (that would be the Treasury Secretary). All the Obama administration has to do is stay on point: there is only one president at a time.
Barack Obama may never say so publicly, but he should in some fashion pay tribute privately to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for their extraordinary success in restoring the power of the Executive Office.