NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- President Obama, having already stretched his authority to spend taxpayer money on the banking bailout, is now embarking on a TARP-for-Jobs program.
That's the tone he set with his jobs speech yesterday and the various other commentary from administration officials sent out to talk up the plan. Obama said the U.S. needs to spend its way out of recession and can afford to do so because recent estimates showed the Troubled Asset Relief Program, aka TARP, will cost $200 billion less than previously thought.
Conveniently, estimates for the cost of this next round of stimulus spending are also $200 billion. The plan, described as a "Grab-bag Approach," prescribes more infrastructure spending, tax credits and tax breaks for small businesses and extensions of other programs included in his previous stimulus package.
The TARP-for-jobs concept is already causing a stir among Congressional leaders, in particular Republicans, who are chafing at the growing federal deficit and the big-government agenda of the Obama administration.Of course, we know that Obama is politically savvy enough not to simply redeploy TARP funds - though we've seen that he's perfectly willing to stretch the authorized uses of those funds by investing directly in banks and adding automakers to the dole. Most likely, the president will use the lower TARP costs as a political balance against new spending he asks Congress to approve. It will be classic political slight of hand -- the TARP money will go to reducing the deficit so that more money can be spent on jobs without increasing the deficit.