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« House Passes Omnibus Lands Bill | Blog Home Page | NY-20: Biden Cuts Radio Ad for Murphy »

Strategy Memo: Regulators, Mount Up

Today President Obama will be hosting an online town hall meeting in the East Room, where he'll answer questions "submitted and voted on by the public" at the White House web site. Vice President Biden leaves today for another foreign trip. He'll be in Chile and Costa Rica, meeting with leaders from South and Central American nations, in addition to Gordon Brown of the UK. His wife Jill Biden is joining him.

In Congress, the Senate Budget Committee continues to work on its budget plan today, following the House committee's approval last night. House Republicans will unveil their alternative budget proposal at a morning press conference.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is back on the Hill today at a House Financial Services Committee hearing. He is expected to detail his request for expanded authority to regulate the financial system, including hedge funds and large insurance companies such as AIG.

**Budget
*AP: "For now, President Barack Obama's Democratic allies are endorsing his ambitious budget plan, but general agreements on fighting global warming and boosting health care promise to be severely tested later in the year as details are penciled in. The Senate Budget Committee was poised to adopt Obama's budget plan Thursday after approval by a companion House panel on a party-line vote late Wednesday."

*WSJ: "Congressional leaders are sticking broadly to the priorities outlined by Mr. Obama in a budget message sent earlier this month to Capitol Hill. But important differences are emerging, as tensions simmer among Democrats over issues such as climate change and health care, as well as spending."

*Bloomberg: "White House Budget Director Peter Orszag sought to minimize the administration's differences with lawmakers. The House and Senate plans 'may not be identical twins to what the president submitted, but they are certainly brothers that look an awful lot alike,' he told reporters yesterday."

*The GOP is rolling out its alternative plan, Politico reports. The document has chapters with clear divisions between "The President's Budget" and "Republicans' Solution." Rep. Cantor said the party is responding "to the administration -- and the president himself, who continues to say that Republicans don't have any ideas. We're here today to say yes we do," Cantor said.

**Geithner on the Hill
*Geithner "will outline the broad revamping of the regulatory system, which goes further than expected, in a hearing on Thursday. He is expected to say that the new rules are necessary to prevent a repeat of the excesses that nearly wrecked the global financial system and plunged the economy into a recession," reports the NYT.

*WaPo: "The administration also will seek to impose uniform standards on all large financial firms, including banks, an unprecedented step that would place significant limits on the scope and risk of their activities. Most of these initiatives would require legislation."

*CNBC's Jim Cramer backed Geithner's plan on "Morning Joe" today: "Remember Erin, a bunch of hedge funds almost brought down the Western world twice now," Cramer said. "Why does this group not get regulation is the issue. I salute this idea of bringing these guys in. They're just rogue elements in society."

**President Obama
*NY Times notes how Obama "is navigating multiple constituencies within his party. ... The divisions are no greater than those that existed within the Republican Party when it was in power, and at this point they do not threaten Mr. Obama's ability to win the main elements of what he is seeking in his budget. But they bring to life a paradox of political success: As a party expands its ideological and geographic reach, as the Democrats have in the last two elections, it becomes harder to hold together."

*Washington Post looks at Obama's shifting the focus from Wall Street to the budget. "Obama's attempt to channel public anger reflects the White House's belief that he is constrained against engaging in too much Wall Street bashing -- or outright punishment -- by his reliance on the financial sector to fulfill Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner's new plan for rescuing the nation's banks. ... Adding to that constraint is the fact that Obama's campaign received considerable financial support from Wall Street."

*The White House web site has received more than 77,000 questions for the president's online town hall meeting today. AP notes he'll answer those questions from the same room where he held his prime time news conference. "Already, the White House is connecting the old-school press conference with the new-media event. It will be an easy contrast between skeptical reporters and supporter-selected questions. Political operatives say the White House's strategy is a way to reach a demographic key to Obama's election."

*ABC has Obama's quotes from his fundraisers last night, where he defended his budget plan and still criticized the "Hall of Mirrors" atmosphere in Washington. "I know it can be easy, especially in Washington, to get caught up in the day-to-day chatter on cable television, to be distracted by the petty and the trivial, and to fall in the trap of keeping score of who's up and who's down. There will be days where we may be declared winners and there will be days where the umpires say, 'oh, they lost that one.' There will be days where the markets go up and there will be days when the markets go down. But you and I, we measure our economy recovery in different ways."

*The Chicago Tribune reports on WH Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's profitable stint at Freddie Mac. "Emanuel's Freddie Mac involvement has been a prominent point on his political résumé, and his healthy payday from the firm has been no secret either. What is less known, however, is how little he apparently did for his money and how he benefited from the kind of cozy ties between Washington and Wall Street that have fueled the nation's current economic mess."

*Obama's "Organizing for America" is buying TV time now to support the budget plan. The 30-second ad script, per CNN: ""America is facing tough times. President Obama has a plan to get our economy moving again, to cut the deficit in half, and create jobs by investing in health care, energy independence and schools. Thousands are going door to door as part of Organizing for America -- gathering support for President Obama's plan to invest in America's future. You can help, too. Call Congress and tell them to support President Obama's budget plan to get our economy moving again."

**Campaign Stuff
*PA Sen: Specter in trouble or not? Two polls released yesterday showed opposite results in a potential 2010 Republican primary -- Specter up 15 to Pat Toomey in a Franklin & Marshall poll, and down 14 in a Quinnipiac poll.

*Michael Steele, back out doing interviews, told CNN he would consider running for president some day. "God has a way of revealing stuff to you, and making it real for you, through others," Steele said. "And if that's part of the plan, it'll be the plan....[If I run] it'll be because that's where God wants me to be at that time."

*Tim Pawlenty got a 2012 question at home yesterday. His answer: "We've got soldiers going off to war. We've got deployments coming up the next two weekends in a row. We've got brave and courageous Minnesotans who are going out and are laying their lives on the line for us. And we need to stay focused on saying than you to them and making sure they have all that they need do their mission. We are in the middle of a flood that could be of a historic nature and we need to make sure we are deal with those issues. We have a historic budget deficit we need to resolve by May. That's enough for this week."

*A new Survey USA poll has David Paterson's approval rating at 24 percent, with 67 percent disapproving.

--Kyle Trygstad and Mike Memoli