by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Think only those pesky Republicans and free-market advocates oppose the way the Obama administration handled bank bailouts? Perhaps you’ll want to read a short Bloomberg Businessweek article about Neil Barofsky.
As special inspector general overseeing the government’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, Barofsky was a relentless critic of the Wall Street bailout who accused the administration of coddling banks at the expense of taxpayers. In a 2009 report to Congress, he wrote that the administration’s lack of transparency in spending TARP funds had created “anger, cynicism and distrust.” In his final report, the month before he turned in his resignation, he wrote: “The prospect of more bailouts will continue to fuel more bad behavior with potentially disastrous results.”
These days Obama’s campaign advisers may wish Barofsky had stayed in town. Now a New York University law professor and free from whatever restrictions he might have felt as a government official, he’s become an even harsher scold of the president. On TV, in public debates, and on Twitter, he excoriates the administration—especially Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner—for failing to rein in the banks and revive the housing market.