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US Bank Industry Bailout Set for Overhaul


There could soon be changes to the $700 billion bailout of the troubled U.S. financial system.

Both President-elect Barack Obama and Congressional lawmakers are targeting the rescue plan, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, because of growing criticism that it has not done enough to boost the economy.

Congress approved the bailout in October and the U.S. Treasury Department has already spent about half of the bailout money. But members of Mr. Obama's staff said they are working to expand the program beyond banks. They said they want the funds to also help municipalities, small businesses and homeowners.

The changes are not related to Mr. Obama's new economic stimulus proposal [a separate two-year plan that could cost as much as $800 billion].

Meanwhile, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, said Friday lawmakers could vote next week on a bill that would impose tougher restrictions on how the bailout money is used.

The Democratic lawmaker from the eastern state of Massachusetts said the measure would help the government do a better job of tracking how bailout money is being spent and give more help to Americans in danger of losing their homes.

Frank said the bill would also impose additional restrictions on pay for executives at financial firms that accept government help.

He also told CNBC television if banks do not like the new restrictions they should give the money back.

Earlier today, a congressional panel criticized the Treasury Department for lax oversight of the $700-billion financial rescue program.

A number of lawmakers have also criticized the bailout plan for failing to loosen tight lending markets. The lack of credit has made it difficult for many Americans to get loans for homes, cars or other products.

About two-thirds of the U.S. economy is based on consumer spending.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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