Paulson: No Money for Plumbers!
Lawmakers are struggling to figure out who is eligible for the $700 billion bailout/rescue money and who isn't, given the strangeness we've seen in recent weeks. For instance: credit-card company American Express says it is now a bank-holding company so it can get federal money.
Suddenly, Amex is a "financial institution" and eligible for federal money. Naturally, this has confused many, including lawmakers at today's House Financial Services committee, which is grilling Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair right now.
Welll, moments ago, Paulson provided some clarity on what is a financial institution and what is not by striking one group off the bailout eligibility list: plumbers.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) tried to nail down Paulson on who qualifies for the federal money, asking for a "clear black-and-white definition."
"Congressman, I can't," Paulson said. "We have a very broad definition and I think that's appropriate."
Hensarling noted that he had read that plumbing contractors were going to apply for federal money to refurbish foreclosed properties.
"We certainly are not going to give money to plumbing contractors," Paulson responded.
Maybe members of the committee can spend the rest of their time listing occupations -- welder, insurance salesman, convenience-store clerk, astronaut, whatever -- to see if they're on Paulson's list.
Wise-cracking committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) couldn't resist from making a Joe the Plumber reference.
"The 15 minutes of fame for the plumbing industry appear to have ended," he said.
-- Frank Ahrens
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November 18, 2008; 10:51 AM ET
Categories: The Ticker | Tags: American Express, Paulson, bailout
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