Posted on 08 Dec 2009
President Obama's latest plan to stimulate the economy and create jobs includes continued funding from the TARP program to aid small business, a new round of of consumer rebates for energy efficiency and additional infrastructure spending.
The plan, though short on detail in some ares, includes three key areas—small business, infrastructure and clean energy—and comes just after the president convened a high-profile jobs summit in Washington, D.C.
In outlining the new initiatives, administration officials emphasized that some $200 billion in projected savings in the TARP program would be used for new spending programs as well as deficit reduction.
At the same time, they indicated that funds from TARP, which is set to expire at the end of this year, would not be used indiscriminately, a concern raised by both members of Congress and public interest groups.
"No one is talking about making new investments out of the TARP program itself," said one official. "What we talking about is the fiscal room we have."
Senior White House economist Austan Goolsbeee told CNBC much the same in an interview earlier Tuesday. "That gives us the opportunity to both pay down the deficit and to make investments to get jobs going."
The small business component includes new tax cuts and credits as well as credit facilities. The administration has asked the Treasury to continue "all the efforts they have to support small business lending, one official said, adding that the Treasury is now "working on proposals."
"Small business does fall within wherewithal of TARP," an official stressed.
Infrastructure spending, which was ball-parked at $50 billion above current levels, is likely to be spent "very, very quickly, probably over the course of a year," they said.
Though the bulk of planned infrastructure investment was described as "traditional"—covering bridges, roads, rail and water—officials said there would also cover "merit-based" investment combo of loan and grants.
Officials did not break out any costs, saying Congress needed to be consulted on many of the ideas.
The final area, clean energy, has both consumer and business components. Officials described a new program of consumer rebates, much like the cash for clunkers program for cars earlier this year, to retrofit their houses and become more energy efficient.
Officials said this would save people money and create jobs.
The other effort would follow up up successful programs in the existing recovery act, helping to support renewable energy manufacturing—which would generate jobs, such as building components for wind turbines.
Officials said the plan was part of the President's "ongoing process of creating jobs."
Though officials took great pains to steer clear of any further controversy about the use of any of the $700 billion in TARP funds, which under law are supposed to be returned to the Treasury, it was unclear how certain credit facilities would be continued past the program’s deadline.