Community Banks Want TARP Money

By:  Belamy Pailthorp
Source: KPLU 88.5

(KPLU) - Large banks that were considered too big to fail have been repaying billions of dollars they received under the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell wants those funds redirected to community banks right away. She unveiled her proposal in Seattle.

Senator Cantwell says small businesses are failing all over the country. She wants the government to step in right away. She's asking the Treasury Department to bypass Congress and allocate $50 billion to small banks.

"There's only so long that people can hold on. And the fact that community banks aren't lending means that the small business economic engine isn't moving. There's a machine there, but there's no fuel to run it."

She says President Obama's recent proposal to use 30-billion dollars in repaid TARP funds for community banks is just not enough. Small businesses employ about half of American workers, so keeping them healthy is a priority. Glenn Deutsch, Chairman of Community Bankers of Washington and CEO of Prime Pacific Bank in Lynnwood, joined Cantwell's presentation. He says if there was ever any hesitation about accepting rescue funds, it has subsided.

"Community Banks do want the funds for capital. We want to lend money. There was some stigma attached to TARP along with the unknown. And our biggest concern was the unknown. And the program that the Senator is announcing is one that everything will be laid out, going in, with all the knowns. And the exit strategy as well."

He says Washington's 90 community banks would all be eligible for the TARP money under the plan. They could start lending in less than a week if the funds are released.