This Is a Rescue?

The S&L bailout is faltering -- and the meter keeps running

The rescue seemed bold and sweeping. Only 17 days after taking office last year, President Bush presented a plan to clean up the devastated savings and loan industry once and for all. By August, Congress turned that proposal into law. A new agency, the Resolution Trust Corporation, was formed to sell the assets of hundreds of failed thrifts. Cost to taxpayers: an estimated $166 billion over ten years. Against all odds, the Government was tackling the worst financial disaster since the Depression.

Seven months into the cleanup, however, the rescue effort has barely got off the ground. Only 50 of the...

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