Orszag on the Hot Seat

By Nitya

Feb 2, 2010 2:22pm

ABC News’ George Sanchez reports:

Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag faced the wrath of Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., Tuesday during the Senate Budget Committee hearing on the Obama administration’s budget proposal for 2011.

Gregg was irked about President Obama’s plan to unveil a new proposal to use $30 billion from Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to help community banks lend to small businesses at an event Tuesday afternoon in Nashua, NH – Gregg’s home state.  

“This proposal violates the law,” Gregg said.  “The whole concept of the TARP was as we recouped the money, we would use it to pay down the debt.  Now that’s not going to happen. It’s become a piggy bank.  A piggy bank which adds to our deficit.”  

Though Orszag said he understood that it would take an act of Congress to change the current law, Gregg said the president was taking TARP money and using it for political purposes.

“Let me tell you what the law says,” Gregg said. “Let me read to you again because you don’t appear to understand the law.  The law is very clear.  The monies recouped from the TARP shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury for the reduction of the public debt.  It’s not for a piggy bank because you’re concerned about lending to small businesses and you want to get a political event, when you go out and make a speech in Nashua, New Hampshire.  That’s not what this money is for.”

Though it appeared committee Democrats were receptive to the idea of helping small businesses, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-ND, the chairman of the Budget Committee, shared Gregg’s concern that the administration’s proposal to pay down the debt doesn’t go far enough.  

“As the recovery takes hold we then must pivot and deal with the long term debt.  And the place where I fault this budget is that I don’t see that pivot,” Conrad said.  “I am very concerned about the long-term because I believe we are on an unsustainable course. The president’s 10-year outlook I don’t think is the path we can take as a nation.”  

- George Sanchez

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus