Pocketbook issues drove the Sunday conversation, with mixed assessment on the question of the economy is at a point where it should cause more holiday season cheer than despair.
There was, at first glance anyway, a bit of a mixed message from two of President Obama’s top economic advisers on the threshold question of whether the recession is over.
“Today, everybody agrees that the recession is over,” Lawrence Summers, the director of the National Economic Council said.
“Of course not,” Council of Economic Advisers Chairwoman Christina Romer said when she was asked if she considered the recession to be over.
To be fair, Summers was speaking from a technical perspective; Romer more from the views of an American who still lacked a job despite some more encouraging recent economic data. Still, the different language will only add to the political debate about the administration’s economic policies.
The president’s Monday meeting with bankers was a hot topic, as was the question of whether a Democratic-controlled Washington would truly take steps next year toward real deficit reduction. And of course there was sharp debate over the evolving Senate health care bill, even with some Democrats saying they needed more proof it would bend the health care cost curve before they could pledge their support.
So let’s get to the Sound of Sunday:
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) - Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said on Thursday that he had no choice but to pay top dollar to business partners of troubled insurer AIG to avert a deeper financial panic last year.
Geithner defended regulators' actions to prop up American International Group (AIG, Fortune 500) with $62.1 billion that was essentially funneled to 16 banks that were counterparties to AIG insurance contracts.
"I don't understand why this is so complicated," Geithner told the Congressional Oversight Panel at a hearing on Capitol Hill. "You either prevent default, because default would be cataclysmic – or you don't. If you selectively default on any, the thing will come crashing down."
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Billions of dollars in bailout money received by Bank of America over the past year is now officially back in government hands.
Just a week after announcing plans to repay $45 billion in aid from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the nation's largest lender said Wednesday it had cut a check to the government for the full amount.
"We owe taxpayers our thanks for making these funds available to the nation's financial system and to our company during a very difficult time," Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis said in a statement.
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) - The controversial $700 billion federal bailout program will be extended through Oct. 3, 2010, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Wednesday.
The Troubled Asset Relief Program will be scaled back and spending limited to newer programs aimed at stopping foreclosures, making loans to small businesses and propping up the credit markets to make loans more available.
"History suggests that exiting prematurely from policies designed to contain a financial crisis can significantly prolong an economic downturn," Geithner wrote in a letter to congressional leaders. "We must not waver in our resolve to ensure the stability of the financial system and to support the nascent recovery that the administration and the Congress have worked so hard to achieve."
Washington (CNNMoney.com) - President Obama on Tuesday outlined a broad new proposal to try to spur jobs and give more help to Main Street consumers and businesses.
In a speech at the Brookings Institution, Obama said he wants to give small businesses tax breaks for new hires and equipment purchases. He also wants to expand American Recovery and Reinvestment Act programs and spend some $50 billion more on roads, bridges, aviation and water projects.
Finally, Obama would offer consumers rebates for retro-fitting their homes to consume less energy.
"Even though we have reduced the deluge of job losses to a relative trickle, we are not yet creating jobs at a pace to help all those families who have been swept up in the flood," Obama said in prepared remarks.
Washington (CNN) - President Obama will propose using $200 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to support creating jobs, White House officials confirmed Monda
The president, in an economic speech before the Brookings Institution on Tuesday, will argue that the money would be well spent by funding projects to build bridges and roads, weatherize homes, and provide other assistance for small businesses as well as the unemployed.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - The Obama administration is expected to slash the estimated cost of the Troubled Asset Relief Program by $200 billion, which could help trim the nation's bloated deficit.
The latest projection, which will be officially unveiled by the White House in the coming days, would cut the long-term cost of TARP to $141 billion, according to a Treasury Department official.
As recently as August, the administration had projected that the long-term costs of running TARP would reach $341 billion.
But that outlook has improved as banks have raced to repay taxpayer funds to the government in recent months. To date, banks have returned some $71 billion to taxpayers, according to the Treasury Department.
Washington (CNN) - President Obama is leaning towards supporting a Congressional Democratic plan to craft a jobs bill by using untapped bailout funds, according to two senior officials familiar with the deliberations.
The officials stressed that no final decision has been made by the president, but they noted he is likely to flesh out more details on the emerging economic package next Tuesday during a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington. This new package is expected to be much smaller than the original $787 billion stimulus plan because of cost concerns at a time of deep government deficits.
Democrats on Capitol Hill and at the White House are considering a jobs package that would include funding for infrastructure projects, direct lending to small businesses and aid to cash-strapped states.
Using the untapped TARP funds has become an attractive option for Democrats, because it would not increase the budget deficit since those funds are already allocated. Republicans have been attacking the president for already sharply increasing federal spending during his first year in office.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama is leaning toward supporting a congressional Democratic plan to craft a jobs bill by using untapped bailout funds, according to two senior officials familiar with the deliberations.
The officials stressed that no decision has been made by the president, but they noted he is likely to flesh out more details on the emerging economic package next Tuesday when he delivers a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
The new package is expected to be much smaller than the previous $787 billion stimulus plan because of cost concerns at a time of deep government deficits.
Democrats on Capitol Hill and at the White House are considering a jobs package that would include funding for infrastructure projects, direct lending to small businesses, and aid to cash-strapped states.
Washington (CNN) - House Democrats said Thursday they're planning to use money intended to bail out banks, Wall Street and other financial institutions to pay for their jobs bill, a package they aim to vote on by the end of the
"I think the TARP funds are appropriately used to create jobs to reduce the deficit," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at her weekly news conference, referring to the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
It's unclear if the proposal would tap unused TARP funds or money repaid to the Treasury by banks who got bailout money. Democratic sources say leaders are discussing those details with the Obama administration.
Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have been looking at a series of proposals to address the record unemployment numbers in recent weeks and are now focusing on an initial package that Congress could vote on before leaving for the holiday break.
But the speaker stressed that "this is not the be-all" and said Congress will work on a broader economic proposal early next year.