Keeping a close eye on our money

KEEPING A CLOSE EYE ON OUR MONEY…. It’s pretty outrageous that some of the banks that have received taxpayer bailouts have also rewarded their top executives with “nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits,” which included personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, and country club memberships.

And what else have these banks been doing while benefitting from the bailout? Apparently, the institutions themselves aren’t sure.

It’s something any bank would demand to know before handing out a loan: Where’s the money going?

But after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation’s largest banks say they can’t track exactly how they’re spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it.

“We’ve lent some of it. We’ve not lent some of it. We’ve not given any accounting of, ‘Here’s how we’re doing it,'” said Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in emergency bailout money. “We have not disclosed that to the public. We’re declining to.”

It’s not the only one. The AP contacted 21 banks that received at least $1 billion each, asking four questions: “How much has been spent? What was it spent on? How much is being held in savings, and what’s the plan for the rest?”

Of the 21, not one was willing to answer the questions. The AP noted that none of the institutions “provided even the most basic accounting for the federal money.” In some cases, they couldn’t — the banks didn’t know exactly where the taxpayer money had gone.

Elizabeth Warren, the top congressional watchdog overseeing the financial bailout, told the AP, “It is entirely appropriate for the American people to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent in private industry.” There is, however, nothing in place for the public to get this information.

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