Larry Summers Talks Bailout on Meet the Press

National Economic Council director doesn't slam the door on the possibility of more bank bailout funds.

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Here's Larry Summers ducking the question about whether more bailout cash--that's on top of the $700 billion already dedicated--will be needed to stabilize the financial system. His evasive answer suggests that additional funds may in fact be required.

From Meet the Press:

MR. GREGORY: We have a few minutes left. I want to talk about the banking crisis in this country. First question, $700 billion has been dedicated to shore up the country's failing banks. Will more money be needed down the road?

DR. SUMMERS: We're gratified that Congress has given the president the authorization he needs to unlock that $700 billion that the Bush administration had worked with Congress to create. The president's financial recovery program's going to be very different than what we've seen so far. It's going to emphasize transparency, it's going to emphasize accountability; perhaps most importantly, the focus isn't going to be on the needs of financial institutions. Of course we need to stabilize financial institutions. Without a stable financial system, the economy can't work. But the priority has to be getting credit flowing again so that people can buy cars, so that people can get mortgages...

MR. GREGORY: Right.

DR. SUMMERS: ...so that the economy will operate. Secretary-designate Geithner we expect will be sworn into office very soon, and when he is, soon after he will be laying out the plans and principles behind our approach. We believe we can make important progress...

MR. GREGORY: All right, but I want, I want to get to this point. Do you think we'll need more? You know the state of the finances of these banks. Will more money be needed? Do taxpayers have to expect that we're not done paying yet?

DR. SUMMERS: We can make important progress and get started with the support that has been provided. What ultimately will be necessary is something that will play out over time. The president has made clear that our administration is going to be leaning forward, that we're going to be proactive and that he is prepared to do what is necessary, but only to do what is necessary in the context of responsibility...

MR. GREGORY: So it's possible.

DR. SUMMERS: ...in the context of trust...

MR. GREGORY: Right.

DR. SUMMERS: ...things we've seen too little of in recent years.