The Bush administration is defending giving billions of dollars of federal money to banks that, in turn, are using some of that money to pay shareholders and salaries for top executives.

Ed Lazear, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, says the government is tracking the way that banks are using taxpayers' dollars. He said banks have huge incentives to lend and that is the primary way they make money. Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, have questioned why banks should get federal help if they already have enough money to pay dividends.

Lazear said the investment will pay off because it will get the stalled economy moving again.