By Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 29, 2010; 8:30 PM
The Troubled Asset Relief Program, which was widely reviled as a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street titans, is now expected to cost the federal government a mere $25 billion - the equivalent of less than six months of emergency jobless benefits.
A new report released Monday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the cost of the program, known as TARP, has plummeted since its passage in October 2008, when policymakers thought that the world stood on the brink of an economic meltdown.
"Clearly, it was not apparent when the TARP was created two years ago that the cost would turn out to be this low," the CBO report says. "The transactions envisioned and ultimately undertaken through the TARP engendered substantial financial risk for the federal government."
However, "because the financial system stabilized and then improved, the amount of funds used by the TARP was well below the $700 billion initially authorized, and the outcomes of most transactions made through TARP were favorable for the federal government."