Subway Madness

| Fri Oct. 24, 2008 12:40 PM EDT

SUBWAY MADNESS....Apparently AIG, over the years, has guaranteed several elaborate tax avoidance schemes that allowed local transit authorities to make some extra money via sale-leaseback agreements with banks. Now that AIG is kaput, the schemes are falling apart and the transit agencies may suddenly get billed for tens of millions of dollars. Transit fan Matt Yglesias is pissed:

WTF is happening here? Can't we, in exchange for all the money we're giving AIG, force the company to keep guaranteeing deals that are vital to keeping our public services running? Something about the implementation of this bailout is very troubling and it doesn't inspire a ton of confidence in the future of TARP.

Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the issue. AIG is still guaranteeing the deals. The problem is that the contracts with the banks terminate automatically if AIG doesn't maintain a high credit rating. Which, needless to say, they haven't. So now the banks are demanding payment.

Which just goes to show how all this stuff trickles down not just to Main Street, but to the subways underneath Main Street too. However, a Treasury Department spokesman says, "Treasury is aware of this situation." That should make us all feel better, right?