The Federal Reserve announced Tuesday evening that it’s giving American International Group an $85 billion loan to bail out the multinational quasi-insurance and investment corporation after the company traded in unregulated credit default swaps and other risky ventures and landed at the doorstep of default. The decision is controversial because it puts taxpayer money on the line for bad investments that may still turn south.
How much would that $85 billion in corporate welfare be worth to those who truly need a safety net?
It would take three years of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food stamp program to eat up $85 billion. Those people that conservatives decry as lazy or dishonest for accepting government help to put food on the table cost the American taxpayers only $38.5 billion in 2008.
At present rates of spending, it would take 21 years for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to spend $85 billion on public housing for low-income Americans. The agency spent $4.2 billion on public housing units and rental assistance in 2008.
The $85 billion would last 113 years at current levels of HIV prevention funding in the United States. The programs, targeted as government waste by social conservatives because they promote condom use, cost the taxpayer $691 million in 2008.
The billions would support Americans living with AIDS and in need of medical assistance for 40 years. The Ryan White Care Act cost taxpayers $2.14 billion in 2008.
American international aid for HIV, malaria and tuberculosis could be extended another 12 years with $85 billion. The United States is sending $48 billion overseas during the next five years as part of George W. Bush’s much-praised legacy-building program, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
The State Child Health Insurance Program that Bush vetoed twice and that Republican members of Congress railed against would have cost $12 billion. The $85 billion could have let the proposed program ride along, fully funded for seven years. At current funding and enrollment, the program could continue another 17 years on $85 billion.
An infusion of $85 billion into the federal Pell Grant program would provide the maximum grant to 14,700,000 students each year to attend college.
The economy of Georgia or Afghanistan could be sustained for seven years. Each country had a gross domestic product of about $11 billion a year. The $85 billion is more than the gross domestic product of 124 countries, according to World Bank statistics.
An $85 billion bailout to the people of Minnesota would result in a check for $16,353.64 for every adult and child in the state of Minnesota, or a $279.13 stimulus check for everyone living in the United States.
(2008 federal expenditures figures are based on fiscal year 2007-08 ending on Sept. 30.)