Exhibit One. Donald Luskin on TARP, December 22, 2008:
I supported TARP when it was being debated in September, and I still do — all the more so, since it has been transformed primarily into a mechanism for recapitalizing banks (temporarily) rather than buying illiquid assets (permanently). As a conservative and a libertarian, I am repelled by government intervention like this. But we don’t have the luxury to stand on principle.
Exhibit Two: Donald Luskin on TARP, April 24, 2009:
Is TARP a criminal enterprise? When a CNBC producer called me on Wednesday to see if I’d debate that question on the Kudlow Report that evening, I thought the allegation was ridiculous. How could the U.S. Treasury’s Troubled Assets Relief Program to rescue the banking system possibly be compared to the Sopranos? But now I’m not so sure…. there’s not one single solitary word in the act that authorizes the Treasury to do anything at all for auto companies like General Motors and Chrysler. The act only authorizes helping “financial institutions.” Yet billions of TARP dollars have gone to the two automakers.
I’m sure every real libertarian who did not divest himself of his libertarian principles the moment that Henry Paulson cried wolf is shocked that a significant chunk of the $700 billion in emergency cash should have found its way into unintended pockets. In related news, rumors have recently begun circulating throughout the adult film industry that not all of its actresses are 100-percent silicone-free as had been previously believed.
It should be most amusing to hear these geniuses defend their support for TARP after GM and Chrysler go bankrupt and all those bailout billions vanish with them.