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Whether the jobs bill gets paid for with bailout funds or umm… other bailout funds is an Important Distinction Worthy of Serious Consideration. Take it away, Star Magazine East:

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama proposed using $30 billion in bailout funds for small business lending. He later repeated the idea in Nashua, N.H.

Both times, Obama said he’d use bailout funds that were “repaid” by financial firms to the government – conjuring up the politically appealing image of taking money from a chastened Wall Street and sending it straight to Main Street.

But Obama’s description didn’t give an accurate picture of how he plans to pay for the new program. And his comments sowed controversy and confusion on Capitol Hill.

In reality, the administration is proposing taking $30 billion from the unspent portion of the Troubled Asset Relief Program to seed the new initiative, not – as Obama’s language suggested – taking the funds from the approximately $170 billion that banks have returned to government coffers.

Controversy and confusion = Judd Gregg is pissed that they didn’t end up trying to do something the bailout legislation disallows, thus limiting his opportunity to grandstand.

While that distinction seems painfully technical, it carries significant political weight on Capitol Hill. The reason: The legislation creating TARP dictates that repaid funds must go to pay down the national debt.

The program as “originally outlined” was “totally inconsistent with the law,” Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said in an interview with POLITICO.

AARRRRRRRGH HOW DARE THEY NOT TRY AND GET AWAY WITH THIS?! If I might suggest a followup for the Senator: “Yeah umm… so?”

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