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Throwing Money At Banks Isn't Working

This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.

TARP money - the funds promised to big banks to help them weather the financial storm.

About half of the $700 billion allocated has been shoveled out so far, and President-elect Barack Obama wants to get control of the other half.

He went to Captiol Hill, Tuesday to try to convince law makers his administration needs it sooner rather than later.

A few problems there.

First, a congressional oversight group has found that the Treasury Department doesn't really know how the money is being used, or if it's being used.

The overseers say there is a glaring lack of accountability. Isn't that reassuring? Wasn't it supposed to be used to make loans, so that the credit markets could begin to thaw?

Second, as best as we can figure, the money that's already been doled out is being sat on, or it's being used to buy up other banks.

CitiGroup has received some $45 billion in TARP money, to no discernable effect, other than it still appears to be crumbling.

Perhaps Mr. Obama has a better idea.

By Harry Smith

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