New bank bailout plan could make it easier to get loans, prevent foreclosures

Bank sign n building

Here's how you could directly benefit from the new bank bailout plan:

Consumer lending

The government plans to expand a previously announced -- but not yet implemented -- Federal Reserve program meant to boost lending to consumers and small businesses.

Under the program, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve would use up to $1 trillion to buy securities backed by consumer and small-business loans. What this means to you is that it should become easier to get loans for college, cars and credit cards. It may also be extended to include certain mortgages.

Whether this works depends as much on the consumer as it does on the banks. All the credit in the world may be available, but if consumers aren't interested in buying a new car or using their credit cards, it won't help the economy -- or the consumer.

Foreclosure prevention

This is what everyone has been waiting for -- and we're going to have to wait a little bit longer.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the plan would focus on "using the full resources of the government to help bring down mortgage payments and help reduce mortgage rates." On Friday, the White House said President Obama will announce details on Feb. 18 in Arizona.

The government is expected to commit $50 billion to help reduce interest rates and mortgage payments for struggling homeowners -- the low end of the estimates that had been thrown around previously.

As part of this plan, the government may:

Transparency

This won't put money in your pocket, but it will tell you whose pockets all of this government cash is ending up in.

The Treasury Department is launching a new Web site, FinancialStability.gov, that should detail where the money is going and whether it is increasing lending.