Dispatches from the Creation Wars

So Much for Transparency

On October 13th, the Interim Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability at the Treasury Department, gave a talk to the Institute of International Bankers. Among the many things he said about the new $700 billion bailout plan was this:

Consistent with Congress’ intent, we are committed to transparency and oversight in all aspects of the program and have already taken several important steps in this area…


We quickly found out how empty that promise was. The very next day, the treasury department posted a copy of the contract they’ve signed with New York Mellon Bank to act as the primary financial agent in the transactions made under the bailout bill — and blacked out all the details of how much was being paid for this service. Balko has this screen grab of the contract:

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So much for transparency. WashingtonWatch gets it exactly right:

Let’s get something clear here:

Private contracts can be kept private. Public contracts are the public’s business.

When the government goes to spend $700,000,000,000.00 of taxpayer money, the public must be able to review every particular of that spending.

We are under no obligation to “trust” that this will be handled well. We should be able to see that it is being handled well.

The firms that contract with the government to provide services have no claim to privacy or confidentiality if they want to do government business.

Treasury should immediately publish complete versions of these documents.

And the two candidates should insist on it. Obama and McCain were both sponsors of a bill that required the government to reveal every grant and every contract they give on a website so the public has access to that information. They should be speaking out on this and demanding that Treasury reveal the full contract.