The biggest beneficiary of the federal government's debt guarantee program, one of Washington's key bank rescue efforts, isn't a bank or a financial services company—it's General Electric, which exploited a loophole it had lobbied aggressively to insert, and reaped billions in bailout money. A joint investigation by ProPublica and the Washington Post found that GE used its ownership of two tiny Utah banks to qualify for $74 billion in federally guaranteed loans, while evading the Fed's stress test and Treasury's limits on executive pay.
GE Capital, the company's huge financing arm, is not classified as a bank and nearly didn't qualify for the bailout, so a team of executives and lawyers descended on Washington—and two days later, the FDIC said "affiliates" of a bank were eligible. That let GE, through its Utah companies, use government-guaranteed loans to shore up its funding. The company has no apologies for its strategy: "We were accepted on the merits of our application," said a spokesman.