O & BUSH PU$HING CONGRESS
By GINGER ADAMS OTIS
New York Post
January 11, 2009
President Bush and Barack Obama plan to tag-team a reluctant Congress into releasing the second half of the $700 billion federal rescue package without strings attached.
A White House spokesman confirmed yesterday that the Bush administration and the Obama transition team have conferred on how to approach Congress about releasing the remaining $350 billion.
"No decisions have been made about requesting the funds," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. "I can't say what the timing will be."
Back in October, as the nation slid into economic doldrums, the rescue package was hailed as an emergency fix for the sinking banking industry. But it has since been criticized as a poorly executed plan that has produced few positive results.
Most maddening for Congress has been the dearth of answers from Department of Treasury officials as to how the initial $350 billion infusion was dispersed.
"I'd like to see more specifications on how this money [the second $350 billion] is going to be spent," said Rep. Peter King (R-LI).
Under the emergency legislation approved in October, Congress has 15 days to reject the president's request for the funds. Should it vote to block the money, the president would have to issue a veto before Treasury officials could tap it.
Democrat Obama likely would prefer that Republican Bush veto any congressional objections, rather than go up against his own party, which holds the majority in both houses.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) last week unveiled a bill aimed at forcing the Treasury to follow congressional wishes when using the bailout money. He has said he will drop the measure if the Obama administration promises to target the cash to consumers, homeowners and small businesses and not just to financial institutions.
Obama yesterday also released a 14-page analysis of his own economic recovery plan, which would cost an additional $775 billion. The report said the plan would create about 4 million jobs by 2010, nearly 90 percent of them in the private sector, thought admitted those numbers were subject to large margins of error.