On January 15, Fox & Friends falsely reported that President Obama promoted "a 15 percent tax on the banks" for the purpose of recouping taxpayer losses resulting from Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) investments. In fact, the fee Obama proposed would be "assessed at approximately 15 basis points (0.15 percent) of covered liabilities per year" for financial companies with more than $50 billion in assets.
Fox & Friends falsely reported Obama proposed "15 percent tax" on banks
Kilmeade: Obama "promoting a 15 percent tax on the banks." During the January 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade stated: "The big banks are set to pay out a record $145 billion in bonuses for 2009. Some Americans outraged by this. President Obama looking to ease some of that anger, promoting a 15 percent tax on the banks that remained or have remained or have returned to profitability."
Fox & Friends on-screen text: Obama "Wants 15% fee assessed against banks." During the segment, Fox & Friends aired the following on-screen text:
In fact, fee is set at 0.15 percent
White House: "Fee Assessed at Approximately 15 Basis Points (0.15 Percent)." A White House fact sheet on the "Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee" states, "Fee Assessed at Approximately 15 Basis Points (0.15 Percent) of Covered Liabilities Per Year."
Kilmeade falsely claimed fee is "only against the banks that have already paid back" TARP money
Kilmeade claimed fee is "only" for banks that have repaid TARP funds, "not the weak ones ... like for example, Citibank." Kilmeade stated: "The responsibility fee is what they're calling it. It's being assessed only against the banks that have already paid back with interest the TARP money they got. So essentially they're paying back for the banks, they're paying back for Fannie and Freddie, who are not paying -- paying back for the cars, rather. Not the weak ones still in the red which continue to be a drain on the Treasury, like for example, Citibank."
In fact, fee applies to "Largest and Most Highly Levered Firms," reportedly including Citibank
Fee "levied on the debts of financial firms with more than $50 billion in consolidated assets," regardless of TARP participation. The White House fact sheet states, "The fee the President is proposing would be levied on the debts of financial firms with more than $50 billion in consolidated assets, providing a deterrent against excessive leverage for the largest financial firms." Bloomberg reported that "[e]ven companies that didn't receive TARP funds would face the fee. The administration is using the argument that that every major financial firm in the U.S. is a beneficiary of government steps to bolster the industry."
WSJ: Citibank would be subject to tax. The Wall Street Journal reported, "The 10-year assessment on bank liabilities-dubbed the Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee-would fall most heavily on the nation's top six banking companies: Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo & Co. Each would likely face an annual bill of $1 billion or more, with Citigroup and J.P. Morgan facing the largest liabilities, likely more than $2.4 billion apiece." The article further reported that "[a] provision inserted in the legislation authorizing the Troubled Asset Relief Program required the administration to come up with a way to recover money spent to save the financial system."