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Other News: Bailout Funds Come Under New Scrutiny

July 21, 2009 at 6:20 PM EST
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, oversight of the government’s bank rescue program came under new criticism. At a House hearing, New York Democrat Edolphus Towns complained the public has not been told how banks are spending the $700 billion. And Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky said there’s mixed evidence on how the program has worked.

NEIL BAROFSKY, TARP special inspector general: The goals of the TARP have changed over time. Different folks have different definitions of what’s working and what’s not working.

I think, if the goal was to remove $700 billion of toxic assets off the books of financial institutions, that clearly has not happened. If the goal is to increase lending, I think that, too, unfortunately, has not happened. If the goal was to avoid a complete systematic collapse of the financial industry, that may very well have happened.

JIM LEHRER: Barofsky said the Treasury Department should require more information from banks on where taxpayer money is going.

On Wall Street today, the stock market kept a week-long rally going. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained more than 67 points to close above 8,915. The Nasdaq rose more than 6 points to close at 1,916.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has delayed a vote on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor by one week. The ranking Republican, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, asked for extra time to review the judge’s record. The committee vote is now set for next Tuesday. The full Senate is expected to vote in early August.

Prime Minister al-Maliki of Iraq departed for a visit to the U.S. today. He will meet with President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to discuss Iraq’s new security pact with the U.S. and about political reconciliation. As he left, a series of bombings killed at least 18 Iraqis and wounded dozens more.

In Afghanistan, at least 14 people died in Taliban attacks in two eastern cities. Up to 15 insurgents used suicide bombings, gunfire, and rockets. The Taliban also released a message about a captured American soldier, Army Private Bowe Bergdahl. The message called for Americans to “make serious and productive efforts towards ending his detention.” The soldier was shown in a Taliban video over the weekend after being captured three weeks ago.

New fighting erupted between security forces and militants in Pakistan. The military reported at least 62 people have died in three days in the northwest in a region bordering the restive Swat Valley. Officials said nearly all of the dead were militants.