WASHINGTON, February 10 - Senator Bernie Sanders asked Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke to identify the recipients of more than $2 trillion in emergency loans and other federal assistance.
"Taxpayers have no idea where incredibly huge bundles of their money are going," Sanders said. "The secrecy may be legal, but it's not right."
"I've heard hours of discussion on the floor of the Senate about $18 billion in earmarks, but I have not heard one minute of discussion about the appropriateness of who is getting $2 trillion," he added.
The amount that the Federal Reserve has committed is more than triple the separate $700 billion authorized by an emergency Wall Street bailout bill that Congress passed last fall over Sanders' opposition.
Bernanke did not offer specifics during testimony before the House Financial Services Committee today hours after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner outlined a massive $2 trillion plan that he said is needed to stabilize the nation's banking system.
In a February 4 letter to the central bank chairman, Sanders asked Bernanke to identify each business the Federal Reserve assisted in the past two years. The senator also sought details on the type and value of the assistance, the repayment terms, and the rationale for the taxpayer-backed loans.
"Without concrete information it is impossible to know whether these obligations are being made prudently, without conflicts of interest, and on terms that are favorable to the American taxpayer," Sanders wrote in the letter to Bernanke.
"Given the size of these commitments it is incomprehensible that the American people have not received specific details about them. Nor have the American people's elected representatives who are granted the ‘power of the purse' under our Constitution been given specific details."
If the Federal Reserve refuses to release the information, Sanders said he will introduce legislation to require them to do so.
For a copy of Sanders' letter to Bernanke, click here.