Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told a skeptical watchdog panel today that a "limited, qualified extension" of the unpopular bank bailout program until October was necessary. "It would be irresponsible to do otherwise," Geithner said. Oversight chairman Elizabeth Warren seemed unconvinced, saying that though the program was "an important part of the government's rescue strategy," it "has been far from an unmitigated success."
Panel member Paul S. Atkins, once on the Securities and Exchange Commission, said extending the program "borders on irresponsibility" and is "a free option at taxpayer expense." Geithner said the government is committed to shutting down the bailout program, promising to "keep the government out of the business decisions of these companies," and shed its investments quickly. But "we still need to keep in reserve some ability to respond," if another crisis arises.