President Obama addresses Congress; Republicans respond

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says the bank bailout will probably cost more than the $700 billion allocated by Congress and he's asking lawmakers to join him in "doing whatever proves necessary." In a speech to Congress Tuesday, Obama said he understands the public anger over high-priced executive bonuses at banks that received billions in taxpayer dollars. He said: "I promise you I get it." But the president said the issue is not about helping banks, it's about helping people. He said Americans rely on banks for home, auto, small business and college loans. In seeking unspecified help from Congress, Obama said it was imperative because "we cannot consign our nation to an open-ended recession." He urged Congress to pass legislation to reform the outdated regulatory system.

President Barack Obama says his administration is committed to a retooled auto industry, but it won't protect auto makers from their own bad practices. Obama says the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it. He said millions of jobs and scores of communities depend on saving the industry. The administration is weighing the fate of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC. The two have received more than $17 billion in federal loans and are seeking an additional $21.6 billion. Both automakers have pressing needs. General Motors has said it could run out of money by the end of March and needs $2 billion next month and $2.6 billion in April to remain solvent. Chrysler has requested an additional $5 billion in loans and wants the government to approve an alliance with Fiat SpA.

President Barack Obama says it is the goal of his administration to ensure that every child has access to what he describes as "a complete and competitive education." The president says that includes from the day they're born, to the day they begin a career. In his address to Congress, Obama links his education goals to the effort to fix the economy. He declares knowledge is the "most valuable skill you can sell." As the president puts it, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity; "it is a prerequisite." Obama notes that three-quarters of the fastest growing jobs in America require more than a high school diploma but nearly half of Americans don't have one.

President Barack Obama says Americans can't afford to keep putting off health care reform. In his speech to Congress, Obama says the "crushing cost" of health care is driving families and small businesses into bankruptcy and hobbling American businesses in global economic competition. Obama told Congress Americans can't afford to put health care reform on hold. Obama said his budget due out Thursday will include a down payment on coverage for all, partly paid for by squeezing waste out of the system. Obama plans to hold a White House summit on health care reform next week.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says those who have lived through Hurricane Katrina doubt that government can rescue Americans from the economic storms. Jindal, who may challenge Obama in 2012, delivered the Republican reply to the president's address to Congress. He said Republicans are ready to work with the president on turning around the economy, but charged that Obama 's recovery plan will increase the size of government, raise taxes and saddle future generations with debt. Jindal said in recent years, Republicans went along with earmarks and big government and lost the trust of Americans. Jindal said the party is determined to regain that trust.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)