Bernanke Says Some Anti-Recession Lending Programs Should Be Kept

The Federal Reserve has been phasing out a number of emergency lending programs as the country's economy recovers from recession But a major program to boost lending to consumers and small businesses is still needed, the central bank's chairman Ben Bernanke said today in Washington.

"Usage of many of these programs has been winding down, but one program for which an ongoing need still clearly exists is the Term Asset Backed Securities Loan Facility or TALF," Bernanke told the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation this morning.

Up to this point the TALF, which has the potential to kick start up to $1 trillion in lending, has indirectly financed nearly 3 million household loans -- not counting credit card loans -- and nearly 400,000 small business loans, Bernanke stated. The program was set to expire on Dec. 31, but on Aug. 17, the Fed extended it until March 31 of next year.

After Bernanke's remarks, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. held a brief question-and-answer session with the Fed chief, mostly focused on increasing aid to minorities.

Among those in attendance today was former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, who told ABC News that Bernanke has "his hands full" with fixing the country's economy. Smith who has become a prominent commercial real estate developer since retiring from football as the all time leading rusher said he was attending the Fed chairman's speech before the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation because he is interested in these "important issues", like the recovery of the real estate market.