White House mulls bank fee in budget -reports

By Reuters Staff
January 11, 2010

WASHINGTON, Jan 11 (Reuters) – The Obama administration is considering imposing a fee on banks to help recover some of taxpayers’ costs of bailing banks out from the financial crisis, according to multiple reports on Monday.

The White House said President Barack Obama wants to ensure that taxpayers are paid in full. “That’s the president’s goal,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters. He declined to provide details on how that might be done.

Politico, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, in nearly identical stories on their websites, cited administration officials saying that a bank fee was under consideration and might be included in the president’s budget proposal next month.

Such a fee, which would likely be highly popular with taxpayers still angry at bankers who are preparing to reap huge bonuses, could be part of next month’s budget. Exactly what form such a fee might take will be hotly discussed but it is unlikely to be a broad-based fee on transactions.

A fee on financial transactions was suggested by British officials at a meeting of Group of Seven finance ministers last fall, but was opposed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

An official from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, asked on Monday if a bank fee was being mulled, did not reject it out of hand but would not confirm it either.

“There are, and will be, a lot of rumors about what is in our budget — most of them wrong,” said Kenneth Baer, OMB spokesman. “But we are not going to get into the game of ruling in and ruling out rumors about what is in our budget.”

The Treasury Department did not respond to requests for comment. (Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Glenn Somerville, editing by Leslie Adler) ((glenn.somerville@thomsonreuters.com; +1-202-898-8377; Reuters Messaging: glenn.somerville.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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