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White House

 

« Strategy Memo: Presidents Day Recess | Blog Home Page | Schumer Stumps For Murphy »

Strategy Memo: Rocky Mountain Signing

Good morning, Washington. This morning, President Obama will depart shortly for Denver, where he will sign the stimulus bill into law. He'll also tour a solar panel manufacturing plant to highlight the bill's green energy provisions.

Details should begin leaking out about the president's plan to deal with the foreclosure crisis, which will be rolled out tomorrow in Phoenix. Press secretary Robert Gibbs also promised yesterday that more details on the administration's plans in Afghanistan will come soon.

Congress remains on recess, which means those members who aren't at home in their districts are touring the world. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for instance, is in Italy -- and reportedly will meet with the pope. Here's what else we're watching.

**Stimulus Signing
*Bloomberg calls the bill Obama will sign today the "most ambitious since Roosevelt." Analysts say that "the size of the new law and its speed moving through Congress ... place it among the most significant legislative accomplishments since President Franklin Roosevelt overhauled the U.S. government in his first 100 days."

*Washington Times: The package meets Obama's goal of spending 75 percent of the funds in 18 months, and the CBO says it could create 3.6 million jobs, hitting Obama's target range. "If you go back to what we discussed on December 12 in Chicago, this is close to about 90 percent - the final bill that we're voting on - about 90 percent of what we were thinking about," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said.

*Washington Post reports that some liberals are concerned the package will not go far enough, and plan to push additional measures. "Some say Obama must aim higher next time, so that compromises produce a more satisfactory result. Some say he needs to take greater control of drafting legislation, instead of leaving it to Democratic congressional leaders, and needs to adopt a harder line with Republican legislators. And some say liberals and pro-Democratic interest groups such as labor unions must do a better job of pressuring moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats to back the president."

*Wall Street Journal looks at the Congressional lobbying effort by the Obama administration, including Vice President Biden's role in swaying Republican senators. Emanuel asked him to target six: Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Arlen Specter, George Voinovich, Mel Martinez and Richard Lugar. He got half. He would tell his former colleagues: "Don't give me that 'Mr. Vice President. If you want to call me that in public, fine, but when we're on the phone, it's 'Joe.' " Obama aides also recognized that bipartisan outreach "may only have gotten in the way," as Republicans "made headway ... when the White House allowed the message of interparty cooperation to cloud the central economic message." Emanuel summed up the final approach: "He has an open hand but he has a very firm handshake."

*Jake Tapper catches a sly caption in the White House slideshow of the economic stimulus bill. "House Republicans surround the President after the meeting. Many of them were seeking his autograph. Every House Republican eventually voted against the bill."

**President Obama
*Politico's Jonathan Martin writes that Obama is returning to the "time-honored Beltway tradition" of framing debates as Washington against "real people." This tactic "is often a refuge for presidents who have suffered missteps or drawn critical coverage, particularly in their early weeks in office."

*Automakers GM and Chrysler are due to submit restructuring plans to the government as part of their agreement to receive federal loans. Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration "appeared to be turning up the pressure on GM and Chrysler to carry out tough restructuring measures, possibly through the use of the bankruptcy court."

*Japan Prime Minister Taro Aso will be the first foreign leader to come to the White House, Hillary Clinton announced on her foreign trip.

**Republicans
*The AP: "Seeking political traction, Republicans are using the economic stimulus package to try to restore an image of fiscal discipline tarnished by a free-spending GOP Congress under former President George W. Bush."

*But the New York Times observes a split in and out of the Beltway. While Congressional Republicans "flaunted its anti-spending ideology in opposing the stimulus package ... many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic -- their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled -- conservatism." Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charlie Crist, Jim Douglas and M. Jodi Rell "showed in the stimulus debate that they could be allies with Mr. Obama even as Congressional Republicans spurned him." Crist: "It really is a matter of perspective. As a governor, the pragmatism that you have to exercise because of the constitutional obligation to balance your budget is a very compelling pull."

*The New York Daily News reports on friction between former Pres. Bush and former VP Cheney over the Scooter Libby pardon, describing the latter as "furious." "In multiple conversations, both in person and over the telephone, Cheney tried to get Bush to change his mind. Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the federal probe of who leaked covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the press. Several sources confirmed Cheney refused to take no for an answer."

*On "Today" this morning, Karl Rove downplayed the "tabloid" report but said Cheney did feel very strongly about it.

**Congress
*Gallup: Congress's latest job approval rating (Feb. 9-12) jumped to 31%, its highest rating in some two years. "This month's sharp increase largely reflects a more positive Democratic review of Congress. Since the previous measure from early January, Barack Obama has been inaugurated as president, and now Democrats have party control of both the legislative and the executive branches of the federal government," writes Gallup's Jeffrey M. Jones.

*Politico: "House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) is pushing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to take a harder line with the Senate after a trio of Republican senators forced Congress to trim billions from the $787 billion economic stimulus package."

*On an official trip to Italy, Pelosi has been granted an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, "a move likely to stoke more controversy about whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights are in line with the church."

**In The States
*California's budget crisis continues. LA Times: "With lawmakers still unable to deliver a budget after three days of intense negotiations," Gov. Schwarzenegger is ready to layoff 10,000 state workers and halt 275 state-funded projects.

*California's requirement that budgets pass with a two-thirds vote is holding up the process, the AP notes. "With every Democrat and three Republicans needing to vote yes, lawmakers on the bubble find themselves in a position to deal. Want my vote? Pony up."

**Campaign Stuff
*Lynn Sweet reports that Sen. Roland Burris informed Harry Reid and Dick Durbin of his new affadavit when the Senate leaders were "whipping the roll call for the stimulus bill." Now, Durbin is traveling to Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, joined by Alexi Giannoulias - who is likely to challenge Burris.

*"Convinced that Burris would be a weak candidate if he runs for election in 2010, some Washington Democrats -- and some back home in Illinois -- hope that an investigation in Illinois will either force Burris to resign or inflict such damage that he can't mount a serious run when the time comes," Politco reports.

*In New York, Newsday looks at the fate of another surprise officeholder, Gov. David Paterson. "His unexpected year of living dangerously threatens to make him a half-term governor. Allies of the former state senator - thrust into power after the implosion of Eliot Spitzer - worry."

*NY Gov: A new Quinnipiac poll finds Paterson trailing Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo by a 2-to-1 margin in a hypothetical Democratic primary matchup.

*Newsday: "Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has moved the two rifles that she kept under the bed to protect her upstate New York home, her spokesman said yesterday."

*MN Senate recount updates from the Star Tribune: Lawyers for former Sen. Norm Coleman "want judges in the U.S. Senate election trial to reverse their recent ruling and consider counting rejected absentee ballots similar to others that previously were tallied." Franken, meanwhile, is acting like a senator and being called "senator-elect."

**Sports Alert: Happy 46th Birthday today to Michael Jordan.

--Mike Memoli and Kyle Trygstad