"The U.S. taxpayers' investments in smaller banks are increasingly at risk. In a sign that more banks are under great pressure from the recession, 34 financial institutions did not pay their quarterly dividends in August to the Treasury on funds obtained under the Troubled Asset Relief Fund (TARP). The number almost doubled from 19 in May when payments were last made, and also raised questions about Treasury's judgment in approving these banks as "healthy," a necessary step for them to get TARP funding. "The banks are not paying their dividends because they are worried about preserving capital," says Eric Fitzwater, associate director of research at SNL Financial. The Treasury Department says it cannot force an institution to pay dividends."
Imagine how many people we could have helped if we'd given assistance directly to the people who can't pay their mortgages rather than to the banks.