Blogs > HNN > April 2, 2009: Obama in Europe, Online Town Hall and Budget Passed

Apr 6, 2009 1:43 am

April 2, 2009: Obama in Europe, Online Town Hall and Budget Passed


President Obama and Prime Minister Brown at a Press Conference

(President Barack Obama is joined by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a joint news conference Wednesday, April 1, 2009, at the Foreign Commonwealth Office in London. White House Photo/Chuck Kennedy)


In Focus: Stats

  • Poll: Dodd's approval numbers drop to new lows: Slipping below a 50 percent approval rating is often considered a red flag for incumbents. Quinnipiac Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said Dodd's 33 percent approval rating, a dip from 44 percent in a March 10 poll, is"especially devastating.""A 33 percent job approval is unheard of for a 30-year incumbent, especially a Democrat in a blue state," Schwartz said. - AP, 4-2-09
  • CNN POLL: Some 51 percent of Americans now oppose the Afghanistan war, and 64 percent of Democrats do. - CNN, 3-28-09
  • BRENT BOZELL III: Washington Polling Games: It has become almost amusing, watching how the so-called"news" media are manipulating their own polls to keep the political weather sunny for their hero. The Washington Post kicked off President Barack Obama's European trip with the headline"Blame For Downturn Not Fixed on Obama." Of course, what was"fixed" was the poll itself .... This is one important reason why newspapers are on shaky financial ground. Washington Post readers who are not completely on the Obama bandwagon should see the discrepancies described here and feel completely manipulated. The Post is loading on the bias, coming and going, manipulating the polls after it paints pretty presidential pictures on the front page. - Wall Street Journal, 4-1-09
  • Media: Obama's London Sojourn Nothing Like Bush's: President Obama's European trip receives mostly positive coverage in this morning's newspapers, with many articles contrasting his reception with that given to former President Bush in previous years....

    ABC World News, meanwhile, reported that"according to our ABC News/Washington Post poll, 43% of Americans say the country's image abroad is improving under...Obama. That number was just 10% under President Bush." The President" continues to get high marks at home, as well, 64% say they are confident the President's programs will improve the economy." - US News & World Report, 4-1-09
  • U.S. voters don't blame Obama for economy: U.S. President Barack Obama benefits from a broadly held perception that others bear the bulk of responsibility for state of the U.S. economy, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll published on Tuesday.... - Reuters, 3-30-09
  • Experts: Bias didn't skew NH polls against Clinton: olling that ended too early and other technical shortcomings — rather than undetected racial bias — are the likeliest reasons so many surveys incorrectly suggested Barack Obama would defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary, a report concluded Monday. Clinton defeated Obama 39 percent to 36 percent in the Jan. 8, 2008, contest, even though many pre-primary polls showed Obama with solid leads. Clinton's victory gave her a badly needed burst of momentum just five days after Obama won a surprising victory in the Iowa caucuses, the year's first presidential contest. - AP, 3-30-09


The Headlines...

  • House, in Party-Line Vote, Passes Obama's Budget Democrats Make Some Changes to $3.6 Trillion Plan but Maintain President's Priorities on Health Care, Energy: The House Thursday approved a 2010 budget that includes President Barack Obama's biggest priorities, giving the president a significant victory as he tries to shift the government's direction from the Bush era. Democrats made some changes in Mr. Obama's $3.6 trillion budget, but like the Senate, which also moved to approve the budget Thursday night, the House kept intact Mr. Obama's plans for major spending on health care, energy and education.
    The House vote Thursday was 233-196, with 20 Democrats dissenting. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) made a point of announcing the vote total herself. As with the economic stimulus package, no House Republican voted for the Democratic plan. - WSJ, 4-2-09
  • Obama's star shines bright in London: Maybe it should have been called the O-20. Just over two months into his presidency, Barack Obama commanded center stage at this high-wattage gathering of the world's industrialized nations, vacuuming up attention both inside the summit and throughout a sophisticated city not easily star-struck. Obama proclaimed at the end of the conference that his country would be more humble in the world, but there was nothing modest about the attention he received. His profile was so immense that it threatened to diminish both the global summit itself and the protests taking place on the streets of London. - Politico, 4-2-09
  • Obama turns to survey researcher for census post: President Barack Obama on Thursday selected Robert M. Groves to be the next census director, turning to a survey researcher who has clashed with Republicans over the use of statistical sampling to lead the high-stakes head count. The White House announced Obama's intention to nominate Groves, a former Census Bureau associate director of statistical design from 1990-92. If confirmed by the Senate, Groves will take the helm less than a year before the census, which has been beset by partisan bickering and will be used to apportion House seats and allocate billions in federal dollars. - AP, 4-2-09
  • HHS nominee on track for confirmation by Senate: Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius stepped around potential land mines on abortion and her own tax errors Thursday as she testified at a hearing en route to her expected confirmation as health and human services secretary. - AP, 4-2-09
  • Obama issues warning as North Korea readies rocket: As North Korea fueled a multistage rocket Thursday for its threatened satellite launch, President Barack Obama promised a"stern" response and Japan vowed to press for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council. Senior U.S. defense officials said that trailers and vehicles carrying rocket propellant were in place at North Korea's coastal launch site and that fueling had begun.... - AP, 4-2-09
  • Key players in the indictment against Blagojevich: The federal indictment of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and five co-defendants charges they conspired to trade official government action for Blagojevich's political or personal gain involve a variety of characters.... - AP, 4-2-09
  • Obama seems everywhere as he takes global stage: He talked nuclear threats with Russia's president and gave an iPod to the queen. And that was only the beginning. It was an eventful first day on the world stage for President Barack Obama, launching new arms control talks, placing China ties on fresh footing and calming fears about the ailing U.S. economy — seemingly everywhere, relaxed and smiling all the while. While wife Michelle attracted breathless attention with every stop, fashionable outfit and sip of tea. AP, 4-1-09
  • On the White House Eyes of the World Are on Obama: The rapid political rise of Barack Obama can be gauged in many ways, but one of the best measures can perhaps be found in London, on the front stoop of No. 10 Downing Street.... That scene was magnified yet again on Wednesday. This time, after meeting for two hours inside No. 10 with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mr. Obama held forth at a press conference that was televised live on both sides of the Atlantic.... - NYT, 4-1-09
  • Obama presents Queen Elizabeth II with an iPod: Queen Elizabeth II wasn't the only one on President Barack Obama's gift list Wednesday. He gave presents to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's wife, Sarah, and their two sons, too.... - AP, 4-1-09
  • Govt. seeks to reverse Ted Stevens' conviction: Faced with embarrassing revelations about withheld evidence, the Justice Department on Wednesday moved to reverse the conviction of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who lost his bid for re-election just days after a jury found that he had lied about gifts and home renovations. -"I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial," Attorney General Eric Holder said. He said the department must ensure that all cases are"handled fairly and consistent with its commitment to justice." - AP, 4-1-09
  • Absentees could decide House race in New York: A special election to fill a U.S. Congressional seat vacated after Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State was too close to call on Wednesday and will likely be determined by absentee ballots in the next few weeks. Seen by some as an early gauge of support for the policies of President Barack Obama, Tuesday's contest pitted Democrat Scott Murphy, a venture capitalist, against Republican Jim Tedisco in a district in northeastern New York state that has traditionally been strongly Republican. The winner will fill the Congressional seat vacated by Kirsten Gillibrand, a conservative Democrat who was named U.S. Senator to succeed Clinton. Of the votes cast on Tuesday, Murphy, a political novice, led by between 59 and 65 votes, a figure being rechecked on Wednesday, a state Board of Elections spokesman said. Some 154,000 votes were cast. The board said 10,162 outstanding absentee ballots can be returned as late as April 13. - Reuters, 4-1-09
  • House passes new, weaker bill in AIG bonus flap: The House is taking another, albeit weaker, stab at trying to keep bailed-out financial institutions from paying their employees hefty bonuses after lawmakers had second thoughts about their vote two weeks ago to tax the bonuses away. A new bill, which passed 247-171 on Wednesday, would allow the bonuses if the Treasury Department and financial regulators determine they are not"unreasonable or excessive." - AP, 4-1-09
  • Bidens: Stimulus aid is going out to small towns: About $1.8 billion in federal stimulus money was released Wednesday to help strengthen rural communities by supporting loan guarantees and loosening credit for small-town home buyers, Vice President Joe Biden said. Biden joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a daylong tour of eastern North Carolina in the White House's latest effort to highlight the $787 billion federal stimulus package President Barack Obama signed earlier this year. - AP, 4-1-09
  • Obama, in Europe, Faces Big Challenges to His Agenda: For nearly 30 years, American presidents have arrived at economic summit meetings with nearly identical talking points: the solution to most ailments lies in more economic integration, unleashing free markets and using a light touch to tame capitalism. As President Obama landed here Tuesday night to attend the Group of 20 summit meeting, almost every one of those principles appeared up for debate. - NYT, 3-31-09
  • Desperate world leaders meet on economic woes: The President of the United States, Barack Obama, and first lady Michelle Obama, wave as they walk down the steps from Air Force One at London's Stansted Airport, ahead of the G20 summit in London. President Obama has arrived in Europe, with a hefty economic and political agenda for his first journey across the Atlantic since taking office two months ago. Obama's focus is a G-20 meeting of the world's major economic powers and a NATO summit marking the 60 years since the alliance was founded to blunt Soviet aggression in Europe.
    Desperate but divided on ways to lift their nations from economic misery, world leaders converged for an emergency summit Tuesday holding scant hopes of finding a magic-bullet solution for the crisis that brought them hurrying to London. - AP, 3-31-09
  • Pakistani Taliban threatens attack on White House: Pakistan's Taliban chief claimed responsibility Tuesday for a deadly assault on a police academy, saying he wanted to retaliate for U.S. missile attacks on the militant bases on the border with Afghanistan. Baitullah Mehsud, who has a $5 million bounty on his head from the United States, also vowed to"amaze everyone in the world" with an attack on Washington or even the White House.... - AP, 3-31-09
  • Today's election could inspire high turnout: While special elections typically garner below-average turnout, today’s contest between candidates in the 20th Congressional District may buck the trend. After a 45-day campaign for the congressional seat vacated when Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate, Republican James Tedisco and Democrat Scott Murphy could see higher voter numbers because of a conflagration of state and national events. - Saratogian, 3-31-09
  • NYT, 3-31-09
  • In reversal, U.S. to join U.N. rights council: The United States will seek to join the U.N. Human Rights Council, reversing the U.S. policy of shunning the group. On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced it would participate in May elections for a seat on the 47-member council, prompting concern among some Jewish groups. The Bush administration had withheld U.S. membership from the Geneva-based council for its failure to confront human rights abusers and its singling out of Israel for condemnation. -
  • Sebelius admits errors, pays $7,000 in back taxes: Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius recently corrected three years of tax returns and paid more than $7,000 in back taxes after finding"unintentional errors" — the latest tax troubles for an Obama administration nominee. The Kansas governor explained the changes to senators in a letter dated Tuesday that the administration released. She said they involved charitable contributions, the sale of a home and business expenses.... - AP, 3-31-09
  • US, Iranian diplomats break the ice at conference: In a cautious first step toward unlocking 30 years of tense relations, senior U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke had a brief but cordial meeting with Iran's deputy foreign minister Tuesday at an international conference on Afghanistan... U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton cautioned that the talks between Holbrooke and Iranian diplomat Mehdi Akhundzadeh were promising but not"substantive."... - AP, 3-31-09
  • Obama asserts gov't control over the auto industry: President Barack Obama asserted unprecedented government control over the auto industry Monday, bluntly rejecting turnaround plans by General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, demanding fresh concessions for long-term federal aid and raising the possibility of quick bankruptcy for either ailing auto giant...
    "I am absolutely committed to working with Congress and the auto companies to meet one goal: The United States of America will lead the world in building the next generation of clean cars," Obama said in his first extended remarks on the industry since taking office nearly 10 weeks ago. And yet, he added,"our auto industry is not moving in the right direction fast enough to succeed." - AP, 3-31-09
  • Obama takes step over the line that separates government from private industry: His automaker bailout plan wades into 'industrial policy,' in which government officials, not business executives or the free market, decide what products a firm makes and how it charts its future.... - LAT, 3-30-09
  • Critics call Senate's proposed cuts 'devastating': Education and health-care advocates decried the first budget out of the Legislature Monday, calling the Senate's cuts to public schools, higher education and state health-care plans devastating.... - Seattle PI, 3-30-09
  • Congressional election in NY seen as economic test: The first U.S. Congressional election since President Barack Obama took office on January 20 will be held on Tuesday and may indicate what voters think of his handling of the financial crisis, political experts say.... - Reuters, 3-30-09
  • GOP gleeful at prospects for 2010: Republican strategists eager to rebuild the party and regain voter confidence see the comeback road running over a number of unpopular Democratic governorships on a playing field that favors making statehouse gains in traditionally Republican red states. - Washington Times, 3-30-09
  • Romney's work puts him in 2012 political spotlight: Mitt Romney doesn't have a job for the first time in his adult life. That hardly means he's not working. In ways both subtle and overt, the 2008 Republican presidential contender, former Massachusetts governor, one-time Olympics chief and high-flying businessman is building toward a 2012 White House campaign by judiciously engaging and disengaging with the national debate. - AP, 3-30-09
  • Obama heads overseas to tackle world economy: After 10 weeks in office trying to save the U.S. economy, President Obama is ready to take on the world economy. Whether the world is ready for his remedy remains in doubt. Obama flies to London on Tuesday, then on to four other nations, for his first overseas trip since assuming office and with the global economy in shambles. It's one of the most anticipated presidential trips since John Kennedy went to Berlin in 1963. - USA Today, 3-29-09
  • Merkel Is Ready to Greet, and Then Resist, Obama: Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, an avowed friend of the United States and the leader of the European Union's biggest economy, is diplomatic about the coming visit by President Obama. But she is clear that she is not about to give ground on new stimulus spending, stressing the need to maintain fiscal discipline even as she professes to want to work closely with the new American president. - NYT, 3-29-09
  • Administration Delays Change to Military's 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' Policy: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the military has too much on its plate right now to alter the policy of relieving openly gay service members from duty. - Fox News, 3-29-09
  • McCain: Let's see who runs in 2012: Sen. John McCain isn't committing to supporting his vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, if she runs for president in 2012. McCain — the GOP's presidential nominee last year — says he wants to see who the other candidates are and what the situation might be. - AP, 3-29-09
  • GM CEO Wagoner to step down at White House request: General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House, administration officials said Sunday. The news comes as President Obama prepares to unveil additional restructuring efforts designed to save the domestic auto industry.... - AP, 3-29-09
  • Obama seeks to rein in Wall Street, broaden agenda: President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are stepping through an economic minefield and sowing the ground with unprecedented initiatives that capitalize on the recession to rein in Wall Street and broaden government's reach....
    "This budget is inseparable from this recovery, because it is what lays the foundation for a secure and lasting prosperity," he said during his prime-time press conference Tuesday.
    Sen. Judd Gregg, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, used his party's weekly radio address Saturday to slam Obama's grand spending plans."We believe you create prosperity by having an affordable government that pursues its responsibilities without excessive costs, taxes or debt." said Gregg, R-N.H.- AP, 3-29-09
  • Seeking the inside track in bellwether race: Murphy, Tedisco stump amid signs of national interest in 20th contest... Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco attempted to energize their political bases Sunday in the sprint before Tuesday's special election to fill Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand's 20th Congressional District seat.... - Times Union, 3-29-09
  • Obama Will Face a Defiant World on Foreign Visit: President Obama is facing challenges to American power on multiple fronts as he prepares for his first trip overseas since taking office, with the nation's economic woes emboldening allies and adversaries alike. Despite his immense popularity around the world, Mr. Obama will confront resentment over American-style capitalism and resistance to his economic prescriptions when he lands in London on Tuesday for the Group of 20 summit meeting of industrial and emerging market nations plus the European Union. - NYT, 3-28-09
  • Sen. Gregg no longer in Obama's corner: Last month, New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg agreed to join President Barack Obama's cabinet as Commerce Secretary, but then he abruptly withdrew his name, saying he and the president were"functioning from a different set of views on many different items of policy." Saturday, Gregg drove the point home when he warned that Obama is engineering an"extraordinary move of our government to the left." - Kansas City Star, 3-28-09
  • Bank execs vow to work with Obama on recovery plan: Top executives of the nation's biggest banks said Friday after meeting with President Barack Obama that they will work with the administration on its economic recovery plans, but want more specifics from the White House.
    In an interview with CBS News, Obama said his overarching message was this:"Show some restraint. Show that you get that this is a crisis and everybody has to make sacrifices. They agreed and they recognized it. Now, the proof in the pudding is in the eating." - AP, 3-28-09
  • Classic Clinton Phrase Inspires New GOP Strategy to Regain Power: Republicans appear to be crafting their own version of Bill Clinton's legendary campaign phrase in an effort to recapture both chambers in Congress next year: Sixteen years ago, Bill Clinton surged to an improbable presidential victory over incumbent George H.W. Bush, primarily on the strength of a snarky campaign phrase:"It's the economy, stupid." Now, Republicans appear to be crafting their own version in an effort to recapture both chambers in Congress next year. Their message: President Obama's fiscal policy"spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much." - - Fox News, 3-28-09
  • Obama calls major economies climate change meeting: President Barack Obama is launching a"Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate" to help facilitate a U.N. agreement on global warming, the White House said on Saturday. Leaders from 16 major economies have been invited to a preparatory session on April 27 and 28 in Washington to"help generate the political leadership necessary" to achieve an international pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions later this year, it said in a statement. - Reuters, 3-28-09
  • Obama moves to fill 3 more slots at Treasury: President Barack Obama on Saturday moved to fill three top Treasury Department positions, seeking to give Secretary Tim Geithner added manpower at an agency that has been slow to fill vacancies. Helen Elizabeth Garrett, a University of Southern California vice president for academic planning, is being nominated to be assistant secretary for tax policy. Also selected for slots were Michael S. Barr to be assistant secretary for financial institutions, and George W. Madison for general counsel. - AP, 3-28-09
  • Ire at Wall St. Bonuses Is Now Factor in House Race: The race for the 20th Congressional District seat has never been solely about the concerns of the residents of the 10 mostly rural counties in the district. Nationally, Republicans have sent in money and campaign workers, hoping to recapture the seat and post their first victory since November's blowout election.... - NYT, 3-28-09
  • US health insurance mandate gains support: Support grew on Friday for insurance industry demands that all Americans be required to obtain coverage as part of a planned healthcare system overhaul, with a senior Senate Democrat and a coalition of business and ... Reuters, 3-28-09
  • U.S. Expected to Give More Financing to Automakers: The Obama administration will probably extend more short-term aid to General Motors and Chrysler on Monday, but will impose a strict deadline for bondholders and union workers to make concessions that would help the ailing automakers become viable businesses and avert bankruptcy. - NYT, 3-27-09
  • Sources: More US troops for Afghan war: Confronting an inherited and faltering war, President Barack Obama plans to dispatch thousands more military and civilian trainers to Afghanistan by the fall on top of the 17,000 combat troops he has already ordered, senior administration officials said Thursday. Obama's war strategy, which he plans to announce Friday, includes no timeline for withdrawal of troops. The war began more than seven years ago. - AP, 3-27-09
  • Financial overhaul plan draws GOP opposition: The Obama administration's aggressive plan for strict scrutiny of hedge funds and other freewheeling investors, part of the biggest expansion of financial restraints since the Great Depression, is drawing instant opposition from Republican lawmakers and the rules' targets. And skeptics are questioning whether the new rulebook would work anyway.... - AP, 3-27-09
  • Obama nominates ex-Miss. gov for Navy post: President Barack Obama has nominated former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus (MAY'-bus) to be the secretary of the Navy. The White House made the announcement in a statement Friday. - AP, 3-27-09
  • Key Senate panel backs Obama's budget blueprint: A key Senate panel stacked with allies of President Barack Obama approved his ambitious budget blueprint Thursday, giving the president a symbolic endorsement of efforts to boost clean energy, fight global warming and improve access to health care. Senate Budget Committee approval by a party-line vote sets the stage for floor debate next week, where moderate Democrats unhappy with deficits wield more influence. The Senate measure is a nonbinding road map for major legislation later this year on health care, energy and education. - AP, 3-26-09
  • Senate Democrats move ahead with budget plan: Senate Budget Democrats approve $3.41 trillion plan
    Republicans offer budget alternative with few details
    Senate budget panel rejects attempt to cut some spending
    Democrats in the U.S. Congress on Thursday pushed forward President Barack Obama's $3.55 trillion budget proposal with minor changes, brushing aside Republican attempts to slash spending and taxes.... - Reuters, 3-26-09
  • Obama to meet bank CEOs to discuss economic crisis: President Barack Obama will quiz top U.S. bankers on Friday about developments in the economy and their businesses as his administration seeks broader authority to regulate the financial system.... - Reuters, 3-26-09
  • Obama seizes bully pulpit online to pitch budget: President Barack Obama seized the bully pulpit Thursday and reprised the best of his acclaimed campaign skills in an unprecedented Internet town hall from the White House — a direct sales pitch for Americans to get behind his $3.6 trillion budget and be patient as he tries to right the tottering economy. After an opening statement and declaring,"This isn't about me, it's about you," Obama took up a microphone and strolled the ornate East Room, playing to an audience of 100 invited guests and what the White House said were an estimated 67,000 people watching him in cyberspace. - AP, 3-26-09
  • Obama Makes History in Live Internet Video Chat: The White House said more than 64,000 people watched President Obama answer questions on Thursday in the first live Internet video chat by an American president. But in declaring itself"Open for Questions," on the economy, the White House learned it must be careful what it wishes for."I don’t know what this says about the online audience," Mr. Obama said, drawing a laugh from an audience gathered in the East Room, which included teachers, nurses and small-business people."The answer is no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow the economy." NYT, 3-26-09
  • Tough financial rules proposed — will they work?: The Obama administration's aggressive plan for strict scrutiny of hedge funds and other freewheeling investors, part of the biggest expansion of financial restraints since the Great Depression, is drawing instant opposition from Republican lawmakers and the rules' targets. And skeptics are questioning whether the new rulebook would work anyway.... - AP, 3-26-09
  • Congress OKs lands bill: After a long and twisted path through Congress, the House on Wednesday finally passed and sent to President Barack Obama a massive package of 170 public lands bills — including several affecting Utah — that would create 2 million acres of wilderness nationwide.... - Deseret News, 3-25-09
  • Obama Turns to Web to Bypass News Media: Call it Round Two of the news conference, with a big Internet twist. President Barack Obama took questions from the White House press corps on Tuesday in a prime-time, East Room session that represented the most formal and time-honored of president-and-reporter interactions. On Thursday, he is taking to that same room for another public grilling -- this time by regular folks armed with questions submitted via the Internet and in person, as part of a political strategy to engage Americans directly. - AP, 3-26-09


Political Quotes

  • The House Passes the Budget: "Tonight, the House of Representatives took another step toward rebuilding our struggling economy. This budget resolution embraces our most fundamental priorities: an energy plan that will end our dependence on foreign oil and spur a new clean energy economy; an education system that will ensure our children will be able to compete in the economy of the 21st century; and health care reform that finally confronts the back-breaking costs plaguing families, businesses and government alike. And by making hard choices and challenging the old ways of doing business, we will cut in half the budget deficit we inherited within four years. With this vote comes an obligation to pursue our efforts to go through the budget line-by-line, searching for additional savings. Like the families we serve, we must cut the things we don't need to invest in those we do." - WH Blog, 4-2-09
  • House, in Party-Line Vote, Passes Obama's Budget Democrats Make Some Changes to $3.6 Trillion Plan but Maintain President's Priorities on Health Care, Energy: "Have we inherited a mess? Yes," said Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the top Republican on the House Budget Committee."The question is, are we making it better or are we making it worse? I would suggest that the budget before us makes it so much worse." Like other Republicans, Mr. Ryan decried the Democrats' budget for its spending and deficits."This is reckless spending," Mr. Ryan said."We are spending like drunken sailors. Wait, I apologize to the drunken sailors of America for that comment." - WSJ, 4-2-09
  • Huckabee says his remark made McAuliffe 'break down and cry': "As someone who served as a Governor for 10 years, I can say if these are the type of things Terry McAuliffe worries about and make him break down and cry, then he won't last 10 days as Governor much less four years and he doesn't deserve the people of Virginia's vote," Huckabee said in a statement to CNN. - CNN, 4-2-09
  • First lady greeted by shrieks, tears at school: "All of you are jewels, you are precious and you touch my heart," she said, as she appeared to be trying to hold back tears."And it is important for the world to know that there are wonderful girls like you all over the world." Mrs. Obama stressed the importance of getting a good education and called the students the"women that will build the world as it should be.""By getting a good education, you too can create your own destiny," Mrs. Obama said."I never cut class. I like being smart. I thought being smart was the coolest thing in the world."... - CNN, 4-2-09
  • Barack Obama"A Turning Point": Today, we've learned the lessons of history. I know that in the days leading up to the summit, some of you in the press, some commentators, confused honest and open debate with irreconcilable differences. But after weeks of preparation, and two days of careful negotiation, we have agreed on a series of unprecedented steps to restore growth and prevent a crisis like this from happening again.
    To prevent future crises, we agreed to increased transparency and capital protections for financial institutions. We're extending supervision to all systemically important institutions, markets and products, including hedge funds. We'll identify jurisdictions that fail to cooperate, including tax havens, and take action to defend our financial system. We will reestablish the Financial Stability Forum with a stronger mandate. And we will reform and expand the IMF and World Bank so they are more efficient, effective and representative. WH Blog, 4-2-09
  • Huckabee to Va. GOP backers: Flatten Dem voters' tires: At the GOP event, Huckabee, grinning, told supporters they had two Election Day duties:"One, get all those people who are going to vote for Bob out to the polls and vote. If they're not going to vote for Bob, you have another job. Let the air out of their tires and do not let them out of their driveway on Election Day," Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, said with a wide grin as rising laughter is heard on the video."Keep 'em home. Do the Lord's work, my friend." - AP, 4-2-09
  • How the G-20 Succeeded -- And Why It Matters: "This is the day that the world came together to fight back against the global recession, not with words but with a plan for global recovery and for reform and with a clear timetable for its delivery," declared the summit host, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. - AP, 4-2-09
  • How the G-20 Succeeded -- And Why It Matters: Speaking of the agreements reached on tighter regulation of financial markets and institutions, French President Nicolas Sarkozy bigged up his own role in agitating for the measures:"That our Anglo-Saxon friends accepted all of this represents immense progress," he said, adding that"while there were moments of tension, we never thought we'd obtain such a big deal." - AP, 4-2-09
  • Morning in London: President Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown held a joint press conference following a working meeting: Well, I think if you pulled quotes from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, from previous news reports, you might find similar contentions that America was on decline. And somehow it hasn't worked out that way, because I think that there is a vibrancy to our economic model, a durability to our political model, and a set of ideals that has sustained us through even the most difficult times.
    Now, with respect to the current crisis, I think that there is no doubt that at a time when the world is fearful, that there is a strong tendency to look for somebody to blame. And I think that given our prominence in the world financial system, it's natural that questions are asked -- some of them very legitimate -- about how we have participated in global financial markets.
    Having said that, I am absolutely confident that this meeting will reflect enormous consensus about the need to work in concert to deal with these problems. I think that the separation between the various parties involved has been vastly overstated. If you look at where there has been the biggest debate, and I think that the press has fastened on this as a ongoing narrative -- this whole issue of fiscal stimulus. And the fact of the matter is, is that almost every country that's participating in this summit has engaged in fiscal stimulus. The ones that are perceived as being resistant to fiscal stimulus have done significant fiscal stimulus. There has not been a dispute about the need for government to act in the face of a rapidly contracting set of markets and very high unemployment. - WH Blog, 4-1-09 Transcript
  • Obama administration takes lead in reshaping automakers: "I am absolutely committed to working with Congress and the auto companies to meet one goal," Obama said:"The United States of America will lead the world in building the next generation of clean cars." - Chicago Tribune, 3-31-09
  • Obama administration takes lead in reshaping automakers: "When did the president become an expert in strategic corporate management?" said Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.)."The federal government is famous for its mismanagement, yet this administration continues to demonstrate its certainty that Washington always knows best." - Chicago Tribune, 3-31-09
  • Obama administration takes lead in reshaping automakers: Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) called it a"power grab" that"should send a chill through those who believe in free enterprise." - Chicago Tribune, 3-31-09
  • RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks: "In an in-depth article in the April 6, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh states that Carter has met with President Obama to discuss foreign policy, and that the administration was aware of Carter's trip to Syria in December 2008. Carter is calling for broader U.S.-Syrian relations....
    "Former President Carter has never been perceived as a friend of Israel," Brooks continued."In the years since his presidency, Carter has been openly hostile to Israel and has shown a naïve grasp of the realities in the Middle East.... - 3-31-09
  • Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., quickly issued a statement supporting Sebelius: "Congress is going to need a strong partner at the Department of Health and Human Services to achieve comprehensive health reform this year, and we have that partner in Gov. Sebelius," Baucus said."There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Gov. Sebelius has the political experience, determination, and bipartisan work ethic to get the job done with Congress this year. She's the right person for the job." - AP, 3-31-09
  • Meghan McCain: Is Schock the GOP's Mr. Right?: "The first time I ever heard of Congressman Aaron Schock, I was hanging out with some friends during a girls' night in, and one of my friends yelled to me from the other room: 'Meghan, there's a congressman on TMZ,'" Meghan McCain writes Tuesday in her latest blog post for the Daily Beast."To which I answered: 'Twenty bucks he's a Democrat.' Well, I was wrong.""....At the end of the day, Congressman Schock is only three years older than me. Which means he can relay a message in ways my father never could," she says."As someone who has been personally attacked when I invited political discourse, I firmly believe that talking about our differences — instead of mudslinging — can only bring people closer to the Republican Party and force them to take a second look at their candidates," she writes. McCain says the" congressman-turned-TMZ-hottie" may be the cure for what ails the GOP:"If nothing else, in an Obama-crazed land, he is getting people's attention and putting another fresh face at the center of what it is too often perceived as an old-news, boring party." - CNN, 3-31-09
  • GOP gleeful at prospects for 2010: "We strongly believe the way to revive the Republican Party is to pick up governorships, because the governors are the party leaders in the state and once voters learn they can trust Republicans to govern effectively, they will start voting for Republicans in federal elections as well," said Mike Schrimpf, the Republican Governors Association's communications director. - Washington Times, 3-30-09
  • Critics call Senate's proposed cuts 'devastating': "It's a budget that gets balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable people: Elderly people, low-income people, people who've lost their jobs," said Rebecca Kavoussi, assistant vice-president of government affairs for the Community Health Network of Washington. - Seattle PI, 3-30-09
  • President Barack Obama announcing his new policy for Afganistan, 3-27-09: "So let me be clear. Al-Qaida and its allies -- the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks -- are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban, or allows al-Qaida to go unchallenged -- that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can." -, 3-30-09
  • Timothy Geithner on ABC's"This Week" and NBC's"Meet the Press":"Treasury secretary says market won't solve problem": "We came through a period where people borrowed too much and we let our financial system take on much too much risk," Geithner said."And the consequences of those choices, made over years, were a huge boom. And that boom, the air is now coming out of that and that's causing enormous damage."...
    "It's very important for people to understand that, you know, it took us a long time to get into this mess. It's going to take us a while to get out of this," he said."Progress is not going to be even. It's not going to be steady."
    "The market will not solve this. And the great risk for us is we do too little, not that we do too much," he said....
    "Will never happen. Because we have a strong, independent Fed, with a clear authority from the Congress to keep inflation low at — stable at low levels going forward," he said.
    "And I knew we were going to face really tough choices," he said."We were going to have to do things that are going to be deeply unpopular, hard to understand. We're not going to get it perfect everywhere. ... This job, it comes with a lot of heat by definition and there's nothing surprising in that."...
    "I would not spend a penny on helping a bank for the purpose of helping a bank," said Geithner, taking care with words that can move the markets."Everything we're doing is for the people that depend on this financial system. Every time we provide assistance to the financial institutions, it's only because we need them to do a better job of getting credit to help reduce the risk of a deeper recession." - AP, 3-29-09
  • President Obama Weekly Address: Crisis and Service: "In the Fargodome, thousands of people gathered not to watch a football game or a rodeo, but to fill sandbags. Volunteers filled 2.5 million of them in just five days, working against the clock, day and night, with tired arms and aching backs. Others braved freezing temperatures, gusting winds, and falling snow to build levees along the river's banks to help protect against waters that have exceeded record levels." - WH Blog, 3-28-09 Transcript
  • A New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan: "Today, I am announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. And this marks the conclusion of a careful policy review, led by Bruce [Reidel], that I ordered as soon as I took office...." - WH Blog, 3-27-09
  • President Obama's Face The Nation Interview: President Obama told Bob Schieffer Friday that he has no illusions about how difficult the task of securing Afghanistan and Pakistan from Al Qaeda influence will be for the United States.
    "This is going to be hard, Bob... I am under no illusions," he said."If it was easy it would already have been completed. We're going to have to go with a strategy that is focused, that is narrowly targeted on defeating al- Qaeda," the president said. Added Mr. Obama:"We think that if you combine military, civilian, diplomatic, development approaches, if we are doing a much better job coordination with our allies, that we can be successful." - 3-27-09
  • President Obama's online town hall: That's a great question. You know, I had just an extraordinary honor -- yesterday was Medal of Honor Day. And I went to Arlington National Cemetery, and we had a ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with a collection of Medal of Honor winners from all our various wars.
    And a special place of honor was a guy named John Finn, who had been present the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was on one of the ships, was shot by -- was strafed by the fire from the planes coming in, and yet still had the presence of mind to shoot down a plane, and won the Medal of Honor -- or was awarded the Medal of Honor for that. And it just reminds you that we wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for the sacrifices of earlier veterans. We would not -- (applause) -- we would not enjoy the same safety and security and liberty that we do.
    So when our veterans come home from Iraq and Afghanistan -- and they have performed brilliantly, they have done everything that's been asked of them, regardless of what your views are on these wars -- they have earned these benefits that all too often we fail to give them.
    And that's why in my budget we are increasing veterans funding by more than any time in the last 30 years. We're going to make sure that we deal with the -- (applause) -- we're going to make sure that deal with the backlog that too many veterans experience in terms of getting benefits. We're going to make sure that homeless veterans are receiving housing and services.
    The homeless rate for veterans is multiple times higher than it is for non-veterans. That's inexcusable. It means that we're going to provide services for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, that we're going to provide services for Traumatic Brain Injury that are the signature injuries of these recent wars. So we are going to significantly increase veterans spending.... - WH Blog, 3-26-09 Transcript
  • Clinton calls Mexico's drug violence 'intolerable': "Today, (our) ties are being put to new tests. This situation is intolerable for honest, law-abiding citizens of Mexico, my country or of anywhere people of conscience live," she said."The United States recognizes that drug trafficking is not only Mexico's problem. It is also America's problem."
    "The United States will be stepping up to help address the serious security challenges that Mexico is facing and Mexico, of course, must do its part as well," she said.
    "We (in the U.S.) can worry about what's coming north, but Mexican people are worried about what's coming south: assault weapons, bazookas, grenades," she said."I mean, we've got to get together on this." - AP, 3-26-09
  • Biden predicts Congress will back Obama on budget: "I'm confident that with the leadership of the speaker and Harry Reid we are going to get our budget with all the major elements intact," Biden, flanked by Pelosi, told reporters. - Reuters, 3-25-09


Historians' Comments

  • Scholars Discuss Black Power in the Age of Obama: The Black Power movement is not a vestige of the past, but a living didactical legacy that is as relevant now in the Obama era as it has ever been, said a group of scholars and activists during a two-day symposium dedicated to the impact of the Black Power movement on America.
    Panelists Dr. Gregory Carr, a professor of African-American studies at Howard University; Rhonda Williams, an associate professor of history at Case Western Reserve University; and Brazile painted a picture of a multifaceted movement orchestrated by various constituencies of Black America demanding to be heard after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. - Diverse Eucation. 4-1-09
  • Ian Reifowitz"Today's election could inspire high turnout": Ian Reifowitz, a professor of history and politics at Empire State College, said several factors will drive turnout."There was so much attention surrounding the appointment of Rep. Gillibrand and Paterson's handling of that, that there could be more interest in this race," Reifowtiz said. He added that some voters will be drawn out by national events and the way the race's narrative followed them."People were following the stimulus package, and there were people wanting to know if Tedisco would support it. Then you had the same thing with the AIG bonuses," Reifowitz said.
    The state's budget, although seemingly not related to the congressional race, also might factor in voter's minds, especially because it was constructed by Democrats, Reifowitz said."That may help by not hurting," he said."If Democrats weren't able to get it together, people would look at that as a reason to not vote for Murphy." - Saratogian, 3-31-09
  • Robert Turner"Today's election could inspire high turnout": Robert Turner, an assistant professor of government at Skidmore College, said average voter turnout in special elections since 2007 has been 91,000 voters."Voters are not as representative as they are in a general election. They're more informed, more motivated and more educated," he said, adding what many pundits have discussed in regard to this race,"This has become a bit of a referendum on the Obama presidency. A lot of pundits want to say 'the honeymoon's over.'" That message could drive higher turnout by bringing out people who feel strongly for or against Obama's presidency, Turner said."If the issue was just 'business man' or 'career politician,' that probably wouldn't be enough," he said. - Saratogian, 3-31-09
  • Menahem Blondheim"New Analysis: Netanyahu not likely to see more U.S. pressure": "The change from Bush administration to the Obama administration is not a usual transition," Menahem Blondheim, professor of American Studies at Hebrew University told Xinhua."The economic problem is so dominant. Clearly everything will take shape according to the success and the momentum of the administration in terms of taking care of the economic problem," he said. He noted that the Obama administration still had to establish a clear perspective and program concerning international affairs in general and the Middle East in particular."Between economic and international policy, the proportion in terms of looking at economic matters is skewed and things are very much on hold," Blondheim said.
    "There is a lot to the political circumstances built on the deep-seated affinities between America and Israel," Blondheim said."The support for Israel as a democracy and its national experience, which resonates ideologically and politically with Americans, is pretty fundamental." He noted that the Obama administration did not represent a sweeping ideological transformation on the basis of which issues are addressed."The systemic approach is different but the fundamental values that energize American politics cannot be revolutionized or dramatically transformed," he said. -, 4-1-09
  • Juan Cole: Obama's domino theory The president sounds like he's channeling Cheney or McCain -- or a Cold War hawk afraid of international communism -- when he talks about the war in Afghanistan.: President Barack Obama may or may not be doing the right thing in Afghanistan, but the rationale he gave for it on Friday is almost certainly wrong. Obama has presented us with a 21st century version of the domino theory. The U.S. is not, contrary to what the president said, mainly fighting"al-Qaida" in Afghanistan. In blaming everything on al-Qaida, Obama broke with his pledge of straight talk to the public and fell back on Bush-style boogeymen and implausible conspiracy theories....
    The Kabul government is not on the verge of falling to the Taliban. The Afghan government has 80,000 troops, who benefit from close U.S. air support, and the total number of Taliban fighters in the Pashtun provinces is estimated at 10,000 to 15,000. Kabul is in danger of losing control of some villages in the provinces to dissident Pashtun warlords styled"Taliban," though it is not clear why the new Afghan army could not expel them if they did so. A smaller, poorly equipped Northern Alliance army defeated 60,000 Taliban with U.S. air support in 2001. And there is no prospect of"al-Qaida" reestablishing bases in Afghanistan from which it could attack the United States. If al-Qaida did come back to Afghanistan, it could simply be bombed and would be attacked by the new Afghan army. -, 3-30-09
  • Allan Lichtman"Obama administration takes lead in reshaping automakers": Obama's actions are" consistent with the pattern of presidents acting during economic crises," said Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University and an expert on the presidency."And it's absolutely consistent with patterns of presidents intervening to make sure major components of the economy don't fail." - Chicago Tribune, 3-31-09
  • Julian Zelizer"Commentary: Big risks if Obama acts boldly on budget": Americans are usually uninterested in legislative procedure. The technical rules that govern the House and Senate are of little concern to average citizens except for those rare moments when procedures become tied up with major policy battles....
    Congressional procedure is in the news once again. President Obama is thinking about using the budget reconciliation process, which prohibits a filibuster, to push through the Senate the many proposals that he introduced to Congress in last month's address. Reconciliation would only require a majority vote in the Senate rather than the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster (the Democrats control at least 58 seats). Not only would the administration include tax and spending proposals in the legislation, but health care and possibly environmental measures as well. This would be a bold political move....
    Orszag added that history was on the president's side:"Pretty much every major piece of budget legislation going back to April 1981, April '82, April 1990, April 1993, the 1990 Act, the 2001 tax legislation, they were all done through reconciliation. Yet somehow this is being presented as an unusual thing."
    But what are the risks for the administration? The first risk is that Republicans will become so furious with Obama's use of this tactic that any chance of bipartisanship will disappear and in future Republicans will be even more willing to use dilatory tactics to block the administration's priorities. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, warned that including health care in reconciliation would do"serious damage to our bipartisan effort." Minority Whip John Kyl of Arizona warned that it would turn the bills into a"purely partisan exercise."....
    The bigger risk has to do with Democrats themselves. Like Republicans, Democrats have remained relatively united since 2006. But by using reconciliation, the administration would be packaging together several bills, each of which has the potential to cause serious fissures within the party....
    The benefits of reconciliation are clear, and the risk of partisan anger should not be overstated. He might need to make this move if he wants to get such sweeping legislation given the partisan environment of Washington. Yet the president must move very carefully if he chooses this route and make certain that in the process of obtaining speed and efficiency, he does not cause excessive damage to the party he will lead in the next three years. - CNN, 3-30-09
  • R. Scott Appleby"Obama Visit to Notre Dame Provokes Debate": "At Notre Dame there's the audacity of hope that the president will make good on his promises to take these issues seriously and dialogue with his critics," said R. Scott Appleby, a history professor at the university, who supports the invitation."This visit is one occasion, among others, for Notre Dame and the entire Catholic community to find ways to deepen and extend the dialogue on life issues."...
    Mr. Appleby, the history professor, said the long-range goal of such a discussion with Mr. Obama would be"to change hearts and minds" and move the country"toward a culture of life" that opposes abortion and embryonic stem-cell research and allows medical workers who oppose abortion rights to opt out of participating in certain procedures."The question is, how can one who is so good and so insightful and so poised on issues of human dignity and human rights — how can that same person not engage fully and seriously in a debate on unborn life?" Mr. Appleby said. - NYT, 3-30-09
  • Julian Zelizer"Dodd's Troubles Open Debate on Congress' Ties With Special Interests": Julian Zelizer, a professor of history at Princeton University and an expert on congressional matters, said most politicians are entangled with conflicts of interest -- and they look bad when they're revealed."In terms of the financial bailout, this can bite," he said. But Zelizer said Dodd should not have to sideline himself unless there is clear evidence of wrongdoing."You have to penalize all of Congress if you started doing this," he said, adding that long-term reform is needed for a more efficient system. - Fox News, 3-27-09
  • Mark Cauble"Gov. Palin focus of lecture for women's history": While Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has fallen out of the national spotlight, a lecture at Barstow Community College recognized the one-time vice presidential nominee as a woman of note during a lecture on women's history month Wednesday. Palin was the subject of Professor Mark Cauble’s presentation, where the history and humanities professor talked about the governor’s rise in local politics and showed a portion of Palin’s nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Sept. 2008. - Desert Dispatch, 3-25-09

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