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Bailout tab: $3 trillion so far

Almost all of the TARP cash is spoken for, and some Senators and oversight officials complained of being left in the dark about its use at a hearing on Tuesday.

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Cash commitments made by the US government to its main bailout efforts – the Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), various Federal Reserve Board programs, and some others –  have now reached at least $2.98 trillion, Neil Barofsky, Special Inspector General for TARP, told the Senate Finance Committee at a hearing Tuesday.

That estimate does not include the cost of any further aid for GM and Chrysler or the warranty support program announced Monday by President Obama. It does not account for the $750 billion cushion against possible future bailouts that Mr. Obama included in his fiscal year 2010 budget request.

Even so, that astounding total is about as big as the entire federal budget was before the current financial storm began.

"It's like having a second US budget dedicated solely to saving the US financial system, and that truly is surreal," said Finance Committee chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D) of Montana.

The $2.98 trillion figure represents tax dollars that are committed to bailout operations, not money that has been appropriated and spent.

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