TARP request on the table
"President-elect Barack Obama yesterday launched an aggressive campaign to persuade a deeply skeptical Congress to permit him to spend another $350 billion to stabilize the still-fragile U.S. financial system, as the Bush White House formally notified lawmakers of Obama's intention to use the money.
"Obama began calling lawmakers, promising to respond to their intense criticism of the financial rescue program by expanding its scope to aid struggling homeowners, small businesses and others. His top economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, sent a three-page letter to congressional leaders, vowing to better track how the money is spent and bolster oversight.
"The president-elect plans to appear today at a luncheon in the Capitol where he will ask Senate Democrats to stand with him on an issue that is shaping up as an early test of his ability to build bipartisan consensus. Yesterday, he was forced to relent to skepticism on a separate politically complicated initiative, the economic stimulus package, by dropping his proposal to give businesses a $3,000 tax credit for every job they save or create.
"The Treasury Department has already committed the first $350 billion of the financial rescue program. Lawmakers from both parties have complained that the Bush administration rushed the bailout through Congress and then badly mismanaged the program. Some lawmakers were upset that no help came for struggling homeowners. Others said banks and other financial institutions that have received money have failed to resume lending.
"Congress has 15 days to approve a resolution blocking the funds. With anger over the financial bailout at a boiling point in the House, Obama and Democratic leaders are focusing on the Senate, which could vote as soon as Thursday on a measure to prevent release of the money."