The Small Business Lending Fund has helped issue $3.5 billion in loans to businesses by providing capital to qualified community lenders, according to the U.S. Treasury. Previously media reports had pegged the actual amount that was loaned out to small businesses at about half of the $4 billion

Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, the U.S. Treasury is ending transactions in paper U.S. Savings Bonds, ending a rich 76-year history and saving taxpayers an estimated $120 million over five years. From now on, if you want to purchase savings bonds and other Treasury securities, or if you need to replace lost, stolen or destroyed bonds, visit http://www.treasurydirect.gov.

President Obama and Senate Democrats are on a full offensive to get Republicans to agree to extend the payroll tax deduction before it expires at the end of the year, while a new plan to carve out a bigger break for small businesses is taking center stage. Two senators have offered a possible bipartisan compromise that they hope could end the standoff.

The watchdog appointed by lawmakers to oversee the effectiveness of the government’s bailout programs again urged the U.S. Treasury to make either discretionary or mandatory a program to rescue borrowers from foreclosure through mortgage principal reductions. Currently, the alternative program is voluntary, leaving the decision up to the mortgage servicer.

The U.S. Treasury has further reduced the projected cost of its primary bailout vehicle, Troubled Asset Relief Program, TARP, by $11.4 billion to $105.4 billion since President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget earlier this year. About $190 billion has already been repaid – and values of some major investments have increased, Treasury officials said.

Bank bailout programs have failed to generate needed credit to small businesses and prospects are not good, according to the May report by the Congressional Oversight Panel, the watchdog over the U.S. Treasury’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. In addition, the panel is casting doubt on the Obama Administration’s much heralded $30 billion TARP re-allocation intended to ultimately assist small businesses.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said today that the U.S. economy is growing and the private sector is adding jobs, although the “enormous amount of damage” already done will likely keep the unemployment rate near its current level. In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Geithner dismissed Republican arguments that the recovery is “unsustainable” because much of the job growth is government generated, some of it through temporary hiring for the U.S. Census.

In a move long sought by critics of the government’s foreclosure prevention program, U.S. Treasury officials today said principal writedowns to 115 percent of loan-to-value will be offered as an alternative mortgage modification. In addition, the Obama Administration announced a new program to help unemployed homeowners. They will be offered temporary forbearance for a minimum of 3 months, and up to six months for some borrowers.