$12.8 trillion (90 percent of GDP!) to bail out bad bets


$12.8 trillion of our money is going to bail out the bad bets of bankers, auto execs, and ordinary folks who took on mortgages they couldn't repay over the last 20 months. If you're among the 90 percent of the country that's been playing by the rules all these years, you may be wondering why that $12.8 trillion should come out of your pocket. After all, doesn't free markets mean that bettors get the pot when they win and pay the piper when they lose?

The "good" news is that of that $12.8 trillion, only a third -- or $4.2 trillion -- has actually been committed to a total of 34 distinct programs. The remaining $8.6 trillion is the limit of how much has been approved. And of that $12.8 trillion, 61 percent is under the control of the Fed in 20 programs, 16 percent is in the hands of the FDIC in 5 programs, another 21 percent will be spent by the Treasury in eight programs and the remaining two percent is being doled out by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in one program.