Lou Dobbs advanced the falsehood that "$24 trillion" represents "the latest estimate on the cost of the bailouts." Dobbs previously claimed that "all the government bailouts, loans, and rescues could ultimately cost taxpayers a staggering $23 trillion." In fact, that number "do[es] not represent a current total" and was not intended to "provide an estimate of likely net costs to the taxpayer."
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During the July 23 edition of his CNN program, Lou Dobbs falsely claimed that "$24 trillion" is "the latest estimate on the cost of the bailouts." In fact, the source of the figure, a report by Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Plan (SIGTARP) -- which stated that the "potential Federal Government support" to the financial system is "estimated to be as large as $23.7 trillion" -- specifically concluded that this estimate "do[es] not represent a current total" and was not intended to "provide an estimate of likely net costs to the taxpayer." The SIGTARP report further stated that the $23.7 trillion figure includes programs that "have been canceled or repaid" or "not utilized," and that "the actual potential for losses is likely to be lower." Dobbs similarly misrepresented the SIGTARP figure on his July 20 show.
In the report, SIGTARP also said that the potential support figure represents the "maximum amount of support" the federal government specified it "could provide" under the programs created to aid the financial system "since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007." The report further stated that the $23.7 trillion figure "quantifies the gross, not net, exposure that an agency would face should all eligible program applicants request assistance at once to the maximum permitted under the program guidelines," and that the current balance of federal support is around 1/8 of potential support.
Additionally, New York Times reporter Floyd Norris reported that in an interview, Barofsky said:
"We're not suggesting that we're are looking at a potential loss to the government of $23 trillion," he said. "Our goal is to bring transparency, to put things in context."
Asked what he thought the maximum total cost could be, he replied that it was not his job to estimate that, and declined to give a figure.
Dobbs advanced a similar falsehood about the cost of the bailouts on the July 20 edition of his CNN show, claiming:
DOBBS: Politico today reported all the government bailouts, loans, and rescues could ultimately cost taxpayers a staggering $23 trillion. That number comes from Neil Barofsky. He's the special inspector for the Treasury's TARP program. Twenty-three trillion dollars is nearly double the annual size of this nation's entire economy, $14 trillion.
From the July 23 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
CANDY CROWLEY (CNN senior political correspondent): He needs to go to his confidants on Capitol Hill and say, listen, what's it gonna take to get 60 votes? What do I have to give on? What's the minimum I have to give on to get this bill through the Senate?
DOBBS: There is good old-fashioned political horse-trading, but, again, as I was speaking with Ed Henry, Candy, I mean, we're looking at a decided shift in public opinion on this -- and $24 trillion, the latest estimate on the cost of the bailouts; $2 trillion in budget deficit alone for this fiscal year. There is a great anxiety that extends across, you know, the aisle on what is happening here to the federal budget.