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« Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton Together To Honor Women | Blog Home Page | Biden: Current Crisis "More Complicated" Than Great Depression »

Strategy Memo: Economic Stimuli

Good Thursday morning, Washington and beyond. President Obama's day is highlighted with a speech to the influential Business Roundtable. Earlier, he will drop in on a day-long conference being run by Vice President Biden to discuss with state officials the implementation of stimulus funds. He'll also attend the dedication of Abraham Lincoln Hall at the National Defense University.

The Senate is likely to approve today Obama's nominee for deputy attorney general, David Ogden, whose represenation of defendants in pornography cases has caused backlash toward his nomination among some conservatives.

The House will begin consideration of the Water Quality Investment Act of 2009, which would distribute $15 billion to the states for water and sewage projects. The land management bill, which would have expanded the nation's wilderness areas, failed in the House yesterday.

Here are the headlines we're watching today:

**President Obama
*The New York Daily News puts it simply: "President Obama railed against government largess Wednesday, but still signed a $410 billion spending bill that served up the kind of pork he campaigned against."

*In a signing statement, Obama reserved a right to "bypass dozens of provisions in a $410 billion government spending bill even as he signed it into law," New York Times reports. "Obama's instructions followed by two days his order to government officials that they not rely on any of President George W. Bush's provision-bypassing signing statements without first consulting Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. In that order, Mr. Obama said he would continue the practice of issuing signing statements, though "with caution and restraint, based only on interpretations of the Constitution that are well founded."

*AP's analysis: "In proposing only modest changes in how lawmakers finance their pet projects, President Barack Obama tossed aside a golden opportunity to work with Sen. John McCain. Instead, the president stood foursquare with his Democratic allies, the people he needs most to advance his ambitious agenda."

*Jonathan Martin concludes that in the earmark battle, Obama caved to the "old bulls." "Pulled between his campaign rhetoric and his own party's congressional barons, President Barack Obama largely sided with his Hill allies in unveiling an earmark proposal Wednesday that shies away from any strict crackdown on the practice. Obama proposed further transparency for the spending goodies prized by many members of Congress - but stopped far short of the kind of serious limits reformers wanted."

*Newsweek's Howard Fineman was on "Today" this morning discussing his piece that posits that Obama is losing the "establishment." "Obama may be mistaking motion for progress, calling signals for a game plan. A busy, industrious overachiever, he likes to check off boxes on a long to-do list. A genial, amenable guy, he likes to appeal to every constituency, or at least not write off any."

*Obama yesterday created the White House Council on Women and Girls. But Josh Gerstein reports that some in the women's movement wanted more - a blue ribbon commission or a Cabinet-level office. "With all respect to Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen, both of whom are excellent folks. ... I think both are going to find this is one of many things they're responsible for and I think they'll be stretched to give it proper attention. We have told them that," said Martha Burk, a former chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations.

*Washington Post talks to Jay Carney, the journalist-turned-Biden flack. Carney, when asked about managing the supposedly gaffe-prone Biden: "I think that in politics, people get stereotyped or they have reputations that they have to contend with. And the thing about the vice president, most of what people attribute to him as being gaffes are really examples of his candor. Vice President Biden is not capable of not telling you how he feels."

*Obama finally rolled out his ambassadors to Iraq and Afghanistan: Chris Hill and Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry. And he'll also name Margaret Hamburg, a former New York City health commissioner, to lead the Food and Drug Administration.

*Broder on Chas Freeman: "The country has lost an able public servant in an area where President Obama has few personal credentials of his own -- the handling of national intelligence."

**Congress
*Second Stimulus: "As the nation continues to shed jobs, an increasing number of economists are saying Congress will need to pump more money into the economy this year. But reaction on Capitol Hill has been almost uniformly negative -- and much of the blowback is coming from Democrats," reports Politico.

*David Ogden: "The nomination by President Barack Obama to be Attorney General Eric Holder's top aide sparked an angry Senate debate over Ogden's legal career," the AP reports. "During his Senate confirmation hearing last month, Ogden sought to reassure senators that he would prosecute child pornographers aggressively, and he urged the lawmakers not to judge him by arguments he made on behalf of his past clients."

*House Defeats Land Management Omnibus: "The bill would have designated more than 2 million acres of wilderness in nine states and established three new national park units, a new national monument, three new national conservation areas, more than 1,000 miles of national wild and scenic rivers and four new national trails," reports the NYT.

*Canada is closely watching the new wastewater bill that the House is taking up today for its impact on iron and steel manufacturers.

**Republicans
*Chris Cillizza reports that Ken McKay will be announced today as the new executive director at the Republican National Committee today. McKay ran R.I. Gov. Don Carcieri's 2002 and 2006 campaigns. "A source close to the decision painted McKay's ability to guide a candidate to victory in one of the most Democratic states in the country as well as his experience at the state level as the major selling points for McKay."

*Many are looking at this Q&A with GQ as the next potential land mine for Michael Steele, especially the section on abortion. "I see the power of life in that--I mean, and the power of choice! ... The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life. So, you know, I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other." Asked if he was saying that women have the right to choose abortion, Steele said: "Yeah. I mean, again, I think that's an individual choice."

**Campaign Stuff
*NJ Gov: A Quinnipiac poll released this morning finds Chris Christie (R) leading Gov. Jon Corzine (D) by 9 points in a potential Nov. 2009 general election matchup.

*Gov. Mark Sanford is officially rejecting federal stimulus funds, but the legislature plans to vote to accept it against his request. The State with the chaser to this shot: "Sanford's announcement came the same day as new unemployment data showed the state with the nation's second-highest jobless rate, at 10.4 percent."

*Everyone's writing about the other Palin today. But the hometown Anchorage Daily News writes about the SarahPAC email yesterday seeking funds for out-of-state political trips. "Over the last many months, the governor has received thousands of requests for her time. While the governor always encourages visits to Alaska, she looks forward to a few potential Outside events over the next few months," spokesperson Meg Stapleton said in a written statement. One of those trips will be to Evansville, Ind., on April 16.

*It looks more and more like Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) might not run for mayor again this year. In a statement to supporters, he said: "At the beginning of the summer when Congress takes a break, I will look at the lay of the land again and try to determine the best political course." Weiner had been gearing up for a run after a surprisingly strong showing in 2005. But Mike Bloomberg's overturning term limits may have made it a less appealing race.

**Matthews v. Fleischer: And what would your morning be without some awkward TV. Watch their confrontation here.

--Kyle Trygstad and Mike Memoli