Treasury Shrinks Bailout Price Tag to $50 Billion

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It cost the government much less to bail out the U.S. financial system than had been previously estimated.

Government officials thought it would cost $700 billion, but now the Treasury Department says the price tag hovers about $50 billion.

The Treasury Department said the Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout helped stabilize the financial system and prevented a deeper crisis. It points to independent economists who said the program prevented an economic collapse.

"I hope this report will allow the American people and their representatives in Congress to reassess the initiative and its impact," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wrote in a cover letter to lawmakers.

The report has been released less than four weeks before the midterm elections. The economy has become the top issue for voters, and many congressional incumbents could be punished for supporting TARP.

"TARP was not perfect," Geithner said during a townhall meeting with TARP staffers last month. But the program "delivered in ways few could have imagined."

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