President Bush will not ask depositors to pay a fee when he announces his plan to resolve the savings and loan crisis, the White House said Monday.
"The president will propose a permanent and comprehensive solution to the S&L situation . . . as well as a financing arrangement that does not include depositor fees," White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said.He said Bush, who met with advisers over the weekend at his Camp David, Md., retreat, scheduled a news conference for Monday afternoon. Also appearing was Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady.
The plan "will deal with problem thrifts as well as the foundation for future stability in the industry," Fitz-water told reporters.
"The president will propose reforms in the federal regulatory structure . . . (and) he will assure all Americans that the full faith and credit of the United States government stands behind their deposits and that the American banking system remains sound," the spokesman said.
Fitzwater said the administration had conferred with congressional leaders and said, "We think there'll be general support for this proposal."
Rather than the controversial deposit fee of about $2.50 on every $1,000 deposited, trade association officials and members of Congress who spoke with the Treasury Department before the weekend predicted the plan will feature these elements:
-Borrowing, in the form of bonds, of about $50 billion over the next three years.
-Money from a mixture of sources, including taxpayer dollars and insurance premiums from S&Ls and banks, to pay $7 billion to $9 billion in annual interest on the bonds.
-An administrative reshuffling that would include a separate apparatus to sell off insolvent S&Ls, a recapitalized insurance fund for healthy S&Ls and a regulatory agency, perhaps under the control of the Treasury Department.
There has been little disagreement over borrowing the S&L cleanup money. The much more difficult problem is figuring out how to pay the interest on the bonds.
Instead of a fee on deposits, insurance premiums paid by the institutions - currently 83 cents per $1,000 for banks and $2.08 for S&Ls - probably will be increased.
The increase mentioned, at least before Bush reviewed the plan, would bring the premiums to about $1.80 per $1,000 for banks and $2.50 for S&Ls. That would raise about half the $7 billion to $9 billion needed each year.
Another option would be to siphon off interest earned from money deposited with the Federal Reserve. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has opposed this. He argues that the Fed pays its income into the general treasury anyway and that siphoning off interest would merely inflate the budget deficit.
Commercial bankers have vociferously opposed being made to help pay for problems in a competing industry. They do not want any mingling of their insurance fund, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., with the S&L fund, the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp.
But, they probably would accept higher premiums for a limited period, say three years, if the money went to build up the FDIC, which has had its own less publicized and less severe problems after paying to close or merge 217 banks last year.