Senator reveals ideas for tougher TARP oversight

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., on Thursday outlined a more robust oversight plan for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Among the ideas under consideration is a stipulation that firms receiving TARP funds give back to the government any executive bonuses paid out since the program began. And before any request is made for additional TARP money, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner must demonstrate the department is properly handling allocated funds.

Otherwise, Dodd said, he would be reluctant to endorse the program's continuation. Dodd also called for including a 90-day foreclosure moratorium to be put in the stimulus package working its way through Congress, and he proposed holding hearings twice a week on how to create a new regulatory framework.

On other legislation, Dodd expressed uncertainty the Senate could promptly pass "cram-down" legislation that would allow bankruptcy judges to alter mortgages -- a measure proposed by Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and others. Dodd said he has been told that President Obama is receptive to a proposal to have the FDIC take the lead in systematic anti-foreclosure efforts.

Credit-card reform legislation might be easier to move. "I think the mood has changed." Dodd said.

As far as getting a financial regulatory modernization bill done by April, a stated goal of Obama, Dodd declined to say whether he could meet that deadline. Another idea in the works is a Consumer Financial Products Safety Commission, which he said he has discussed with House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., with whom he met this morning.

Dodd detailed a busy hearing schedule for his panel. Geithner is slated to come before the committee on Feb. 10, at which point he may have readied a plan to help stabilize the housing market and capitalize the banking system. Dodd will hold a TARP oversight hearing next Thursday with GAO officials and Elizabeth Warren, who chairs TARP's oversight board.

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