By Alister Bull
WASHINGTON, Jan 14 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Thursday will propose major U.S. financial firms pay a fee to protect taxpayers from up to $117 billion in losses on a bank bailout that has spurred fury at Wall Street excess.
Obama, whose action comes amid mounting public anger over multi-million dollar bank bonuses while ordinary Americans struggle in the face of 10 percent unemployment, will announce the plan at 11:50 a.m. (1650 GMT), a senior administration official said.
“The fee that is put forward here is in many ways a minimum — a minimum of what is owed back for the rather significant costs that are borne in many aspects by the taxpayers,” the administration official told reporters.
The levy will recoup losses from a $700 billion taxpayer rescue of U.S. banks called the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, conceived in 2008 by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, at the height of the global financial panic.
Forged after the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers and multi-billion dollar rescue of insurance giant American International Group <AIG.N>, TARP helped stem the crisis by injecting public capital into the biggest U.S. banks and convincing investors no others would be allowed to fail.