“The Banks Still Hold Guns to our Heads,” Say Former TARP Director

Watch: Jon Stewart and ‘Bailout’ author Neil Barofsky on how TARP screwed American homeowners

By Steven Hsieh
AlterNet, February 8, 2013

Last night, Jon Stewart interviewed Neil Barofsky, the former overseer of the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and author of the new book Bailout.

According to Barofsky, TARP turned into a colossal betrayal of the American people, a disaster aided by the corrosive and defensive environment in Washington.

“Everybody was more concerned about looking out for themselves, the next newspaper report, rather than the giant financial meltdown that we had walked into,” Barofsky said. Barofsky was appointed by President Bush in 2009 as Special Inspector General to TARP, but resigned in 2011.

Part of the $700 billion was supposed to help homeowners, but only an infinitesimal portion ended up actually going to families struggling under the weight of toxic, ballooning mortgage payments. In particularly, the home mortgage modification program (HAMP) was completely corrupted to aid Wall Street while ignoring homeowners.

“There was almost no effort,” said Barofsky. “The justifications for not doing the right thing, among them was, ‘Oh well, we can’t help an undeserving homeowner. It would be terrible if we did that,’” Barofsky said. “Meanwhile, the financial institutions that drove this country into the ditch … those guys, ‘let’s not only get them their money, but let’s make sure their still able to pay their million dollars in business.’”

Barofsky and Stewart also discussed how unless the “too big to fail” exemption for Wall Street, our broken financial system will continue to screw over everyday Americans.

“A lot of the biggest banks did and still do hold the guns to our heads,” said Barofsky.

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