Can Obama Get it All Done? Major Issues Dominate President's Agenda

Congress is split on whether money returned by firms from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) should be used to create jobs. Of the $370 billion in TARP funds disbursed to date banks have repaid $71 billion, and Bank of America's planned repayment would bring that total to $116 billion, the administration is expected to report today.

Advocates of this approach, such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., say that use would be justified since TARP funding was intended to help the economy, to begin with.

"Creating jobs reduces the deficit and I think the TARP funds are appropriately used to create jobs to reduce the deficit," Pelosi told reporters on Thursday.

Critics say such a measure will only expand the size of the government but do little to help Americans.

"We passed TARP to avoid an economic calamity, and I have been probably the biggest critic of how that money was actually spent," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told Bloomberg News last week. "But the money went out to financial institutions. Now it's coming back, and as it comes back, what we ought to do with that money is use it to reduce the budget deficit. Nobody ever had any idea that when this money came back that we'd go ahead and spend it on something else."

Today, the Obama administration will report to Congress that the TARP is expected to turn a profit of roughly $20 billion from money invested in banks and returned. But taxpayers will lose roughly $30 billion from investments in AIG and lose roughly $30 billion from investments in automakers. However, both those investments are not over so the figures could change.

Additionally, the Obama administration expects that when its new budget is published in February, it will show that the cost to taxpayers and the deficit will be at least $200 billion lower than the $341 billion estimate projected in the mid-session review published in August.


Even as the president turns his attention to domestic issues -- with jobs and health care dominating his agenda -- the war in Afghanistan continues to stay on the radar.

Last week, the president announced he will send 30,000 additional troops to the country and outlined a timeline for troops to start pulling out of the war-torn region.

Critics have ripped the president's timeline, with some such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., saying it will only "embolden terrorists," but O'Reilly says the real issue is the amount of time Obama took to make a decision.

"Took him far too long to make the decision. It helped the Taliban and it rattled Pakistan," said O'Reilly, who said he would give Obama a C on his handling of Afghanistan. "I think he could've acted more decisively and his speech at West Point was not good. ... Cadets were falling asleep. It's never good when your army is falling asleep."

O'Reilly calls the claim that Obama's timeline will help terrorists "bull."

"He has to say that to get the Europeans to cooperate. He has to say, you know, 'We're not going to be there forever but help us now,'" O'Reilly said. "I'm not an ideologue. I know what these guys do and why they do it and that's why that didn't bother me. ... Everybody knows that if it's not going well at that juncture, he won't pull them [troops] out unless it's just hopeless."

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