This is another resounding success by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner:
Nearly nine months after its formation, a $30 billion government fund to foster small-business lending has yet to pay out a single dime, even as the nation struggles with traumatic levels of unemployment….
As of this week, 844 institutions have applied for $11.6 billion from the Small Business Lending Fund. In theory, money from the fund would free up capital so that banks could then grant more loans to companies looking to buy new equipment and hire more workers.
But vetting the financial soundness of each bank has required a lot of coordination with federal regulators, a Treasury official said, and the department has been attempting to strike a balance between protecting taxpayers and encouraging credit for small businesses.
Those who passed the legislation aren’t happy either:
Sen. Jeff Merkley was one of the leaders who got the small business lending bill passed last year. I asked his office about this story today. “Senator Merkley has been extremely frustrated with the slow pace of Treasury in setting up the Small Business Lending Fund – and urged Treasury last month to pick up the pace,” they said. You can read Merkley’s letter to Treasury here. Simply put, Merkley’s office believes this fund should be the highest priority at Treasury, especially with unemployment so high, and he doesn’t see that kind of commitment yet.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: the Obama Administration doesn’t really care about reducing the employment deficit. By care, I mean that this is the highest priority. Poll after poll shows that people want action on jobs, and here is a program that managed to get by the Republicans that could potentially create jobs and…. delay after delay.
A president who really cared about unemployment would have the heads of the responsible (or irresponsible as the case may be) parties mounted on the White House fence. If he cared.
This is an unforced error. Again.