The Wall Street Journal has a timely article that comes out in the middle of the current debate over the Democrat's proposed new regulations for banks and investment firms...which Republicans have argued will only serve to institutionalize "bailouts" of such companies by taxpayers, rather than letting them fail.
The complaint is that, when companies have a specific promise that, if they start to go under the government will come in and bail them out, they act differently. They take more risks, and other actors in a free market treat them differently, (because they've got that nice government "insurance policy"). In other words, "crony capitalism".
The Journal article is interesting because it points out that, out of all the financial institutions that received bailouts (under the TARP program), most of them have paid almost all of the funds back...except for the "Government Sponsored Entities" (GSE's) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac...which were set up by Congress...allowed to play in the free market as quasi-private actors, but with the taxpayers' line of credit. They're still in the hole for almost $380 billion...and the Treasury Department even went so far late last year as to remove their previous $400 billion dollar credit limit.