More Like This Please

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The Washington Post has an excellent profile of Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). According to the Post, Barofsky is the genuine real deal when it comes to providing oversight and achieving accountability for the money spent on bailing out the banks. And he isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers in maintaining integrity and independence:

Barofsky had a simple message: The government should require any bank receiving taxpayer dollars to explain how it is spending the money.

The official, Neel Kashkari, disagreed. So Barofsky, the special inspector general for the program, said his office would do it instead.

“I don’t think Treasury’s done enough,” he said. “Frankly, I’m not terribly concerned if anyone in Treasury actually thinks we’re being too aggressive. That’s our job.”

The episode illustrates why lawmakers and watchdog groups say Barofsky is emerging as the primary check on waste and fraud in the six-month-old financial rescue effort. But Wall Street executives and Treasury officials criticize him as an overreaching zealot scaring banks from joining the financial rescue, and even his supporters wonder whether his office has sufficient resources to adequately oversee such a gigantic program.

The Special Inspector General’s office has been allocated $50 million for what could be a decade’s worth of work. It is vital to have someone with Barofsky’s dedication to oversight and transparency in charge of this operation. The fact that he quotes from “The Simpsons” and his favorite band is The Clash just makes it that much better.

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