WASHINGTON — The top congressional watchdog overseeing the nation's financial bailout said Thursday she's frustrated by the Treasury Department's refusal to explain how it is doling out billions in taxpayer money.
Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, the chairwoman of a congressional oversight panel, traveled to Washington to get answers on how Treasury is managing the unprecedented bailout.
In an interview with the Associated Press, the Democratic appointee said she doesn't understand why it's taken so long for the Bush administration to explain its plan. Warren said she doesn't want to believe it's because there never was a plan for spending $700-billion in taxpayer money to rescue banks.
"I don't buy a winter coat without a plan," she said. "I can't imagine how someone could think they were going to repair a failing economy and undertake spending billions of dollars in taxpayer money without a plan."
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson originally intended to use the money to buy risky loans from banks, freeing them to make new, safer loans. Shortly after the funds were approved, however, Paulson announced that $250-billion would instead be used to buy stock in U.S. banks.
"We've reversed directions more than once here, without any description of an overall strategy," Warren said. "It's not to say there's not one, but I don't think it should be such a well-hidden secret."
Treasury spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin had no comment on Warren's remarks.