Bailout or no bailout, Taxpayers get left with the tab

By voting down the first $700 billion financial bailout package — and causing a spectacular stock market rout — a majority of members in the House of Representatives made a clear statement that they didn't want to put taxpayers on the hook for the failures of financial institutions.

But there's a catch: taxpayers are already on the hook for the failures of financial institutions, and it's possible that the bill will actually be larger without bailout legislation than with it.

That's because the regulators who mind the financial industry — the Federal Reserve, Treasury and FDIC — will keep doing what they've been doing: stepping in to prevent the chaotic failure of banks and other large financial institutions. This means continuing to put hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars at risk, but in a way that adheres to no clear plan of action and doesn't require members of Congress to explicitly approve their actions.


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