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Inside Washington (11/19/2008)
* WASHINGTON (11/20/08)--Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was criticized Tuesday by lawmakers at a hearing for changing the course on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and refusing to create of a loan modification program (American Banker Nov. 19). House Financial Services Committee members also suggested Paulson tricked congressional members into agreeing to the $700 billion bailout package. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) said Paulson is “flying a $700 billion plane by the seat of [his] pants,” and the vote for TARP was the second-largest bait and switch scheme after the Iraq war. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who has worked with Paulson on policy, asked him why he would spend money to bail out American International Group but ignore Sheila Bair’s $24 billion loan modification plan. Bair’s plan is promising, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said during testimony at the hearing. Bernanke agreed the government needs to help more to prevent foreclosures ... * WASHINGTON (11/20/08)--The Federal Reserve Board approved the restructuring of the Fed’s check-processing operations in the Seventh District this week. Specifically, the Fed approved amendments to Appendix A of Regulation CC. The amendments are effective Jan. 31 ... * WASHINGTON (11/20/08)--The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) announced that it will open a temporary office in Irvine, Calif., to manage receiverships and liquidate assets from failed financial institutions located in western states. The FDIC will hire non-permanent employees and contractors to work in the office based on the number of closings and receiverships ... * WASHINGTON (11/20/08)--In a speech Tuesday, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Chairman Sheila Bair indicated that debt coverage fees could drop. The agency has received comments for an interim rule on a temporary liquidity guarantee program, and “we are considering suggestions with regard to whether the debt guarantee program should cover very short-term funding or whether we should have a tiered-fee structure based upon the maturity of the debt guaranteed,” Bair said. The FDIC is scheduled to finalize the rule Friday ...

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