It's a favorite target of both liberal and conservative ire, but the $700 billion TARP program passed under President Bush has been more effective than many predicted. According to the Los Angeles Times, Bank of America's recent decision to repay $45 billion to TARP returns to the government more than half of the fund's direct investment in banks. "It turns out, actually, TARP—as wildly unpopular as it has been—has been much cheaper than any of us anticipated," President Obama said at Thursday's White House job summit. Other uses of the fund, like bailing out AIG and General Motors, are less likely to produce quick returns. One expert told the Times that the government may end up as much as $150 billion in the red. But given the surprising turnaround of the finance industry, it may be money well spent. "There's a widespread consensus that TARP shored up confidence in the global financial sector and paved the way for a dramatic rebound in Wall Street profits," the Times said.