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78-Group Coalition Led by Nation's Largest Taxpayer Organization Demands Greater Bailout Transparency
For Immediate Release December 8, 2008
Pete Sepp, (703) 683-5700
(Alexandria, VA) -- Before another penny of the estimated $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money backing various bailout initiatives is spent, Congress must act to make the process more transparent to the public. That's the message a coalition of 78 organizations, assembled and led by the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and OpenTheGovernment.org, sent in a letter to Congress today urging more accountability and oversight of financial rescue funds.
"We, the undersigned advocates for open and accountable government, are writing to express our deep concern that the executive branch has provided no transparency into how taxpayer money is being spent and the decision-making process behind the financial bailout initiatives," the letter begins. "We urge you to use your oversight authority to make the financial bailout more accountable to the American public, and your legislative authority to make it more transparent."
The signatories include representatives from groups across the political spectrum, including the American Conservative Union, Public Citizen, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Sunlight Foundation.
The letter notes that nearly half of the $700 billion committed to the Troubled Assets Relief Program has already been distributed with very little transparency and almost no oversight -- in addition to another $800 billion being spent by the Federal Reserve. The letter recommends requiring that the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and other government entities involved in the bailout collect and make available to the public information on certain aspects of how bailout aid is being spent by recipients.
To expedite these improvements, the signatories suggest that Congress build upon existing legislation, such as a bill sponsored by Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) that would ban the use of bailout money for lobbying and political contributions. It would also require firms receiving tax dollars to provide publicly accessible detailed reports outlining how federal funds have been used.
"The public deserves vigorous, timely, and easily-accessible disclosure of all details surrounding any government decisions regarding financial market problems," the signatories conclude. "We ask that you honor this by making sure that robust and effective oversight occurs and that all relevant records are collected and publicly available."
NTU is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. Note: For more information, visit www.ntu.org or www.beyondbailouts.org.