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« Pelosi Slows Down Talk Of Second Stimulus | Blog Home Page | Biden, The Amtrak VP, Praises Rail Funds In Stimulus »

Strategy Memo: The Hot Seat

Happy Friday. Today, President Obama will receive a report on the stimulus from Paul Volcker, the chair of his Economic Recovery Board. He'll then make some remarks on the economy. Meanwhile, Vice President Biden will swear in Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and then make an announcement about Amtrak funding at Union Station. He and the president will then have lunch. Also, Larry Summers will speak at Brookings, ending a week in which the president's economic team took a higher profile.

Get ready for another quiet Friday on the Hill, as neither the House or Senate are in session today. Yesterday, the Senate confirmed the nominations of David W. Ogden and Thomas John Perrelli for the posts of deputy and associate attorney general, respectively. The House celebrated Pi yesterday, designating March 14 (or 3.14) as National Pi Day.

The other big topic du jour remains Michael Steele. Folks alternately speculate that Steele is toast, will survive, or that his fate depends on the NY-20 special. This much is clear -- it's hard for the GOP to rebuild when the chairman is fighting to stay afloat.

**President Obama
*Permanent Campaign: "Obama already won the election. But politics never actually goes away. It has been called 'the permanent campaign.' Books have been written about it, as long ago as the 1980s ... The message is that campaigning has become an essential part of governing. A high public-approval rating gives a president more clout with Congress," writes NJ's William Schneider.

*President Obama told the Business Roundtable that the economy isn't as dire as it seems. (This after saying for months that it's going to get worse before it gets better). "I don't think things are ever as good as they say, or ever as bad as they say," Obama said. "Things two years ago were not as good as we thought because there were a lot of underlying weaknesses in the economy. They're not as bad as we think they are now."

*President Obama is considering a request from Gov. Rick Perry to send troops to the Mexican border, Washington Post writes.

*The first front in the gay rights issue for Obama will be deciding whether to grant partner benefits to gay federal employees, based on a San Francisco case. NY Times: "If he supports the personnel office on denying benefits to the San Francisco court employees, he risks agitating liberal groups that helped him win election. If he supports the judges and challenges the marriage act, he risks alienating Republicans with whom he is seeking to work on economic, health care and numerous other matters."

*Obama's staffing woes continue, and JMart thinks the lobbyist ban limits are to blame.

*Earl Devaney, the man in charge of the stimulus oversight, said it is "inevitable" that waste will occur. "I'm afraid that there may be a naive impression that given the amount of transparency and accountability called for by this act, no or little fraud will occur. My 38 years of federal enforcement experience tells me that some level of waste and fraud is unfortunately inevitable," Devaney told state officials charged with coordinating the spending, per the Washington Times.

*Tim Geithner had a rough go on Capitol Hill, especially during questioning from Sen. Jim Bunning, ABC reports. "You were part of the problem. You were the head of the Federal Bank of New York, you sat in on the meetings of TARP when it was decided. In fact they give you credit for it being your plan," Bunning said.

*The Obamas are "cultivating the Beltway social elite behind the scenes," Washington Times finds. They invited top editors from DC's "luxury lifestyle magazines" to discuss, "among other things, how President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama can embrace Washington's glittery social scene."

*Carl Cannon runs through a selection of current polls that "provide a portrait of our public mood." He notes that Bush 43 "made it a point of pride to ignore the polls. This wasn't always a good thing. On the other extreme, Bill Clinton was such a slave to public opinion that he once tasked his pollsters to find out whether Americans wanted him to vacation out West -- or return for another summer on Martha's Vineyard."

**Michael Steele
*Adam Nagourney looks into the Steele situation. "It appears highly unlikely that there would be any serious move to recall Mr. Steele, who is barely two months into a two-year job. The political repercussions of replacing the party's first African-American chairman would be too severe, several Republican leaders said, and there are no obvious candidates ready to take the job. Nonetheless, there were expressions of anguish over what many Republicans described as Mr. Steele's growing pains as he takes on the role of leader of a party struggling to find its way after its defeat in the November elections. This latest episode seems likely to diminish his conservative credentials further, undercutting his ability to present his case for his party and raise money."

*Phil Singer points out that in 2006, Michael Steele said he opposed a key plank on abortion in the RNC platform.

*Florida GOP chair Jim Greer sent a letter supporting Steele.

**Congress
*No Second Stimulus: Speaker Nancy Pelosi downplayed yesterday the imminent possibility of a second stimulus.

*National Journal's Jonathan Rauch writes that earmarks aren't as easy to get passed as one might think and proves it by attempting to get one for himself. A must read, as usual.

*NJ's Congressional Insiders Poll: Members of Congress grade their leaders. Dems give: Pelosi, B, Boehner, D, Reid, C; McConnell, D+. GOPers give: Pelosi, D+; Boehner B-; Reid, D; McConnell, C+. Click through to read Members' quotes about them.

**Campaign Stuff
*MN SEN: Could it be? "After seven weeks of testimony and thousands of bits of evidence, the end of the trial -- if not the final outcome -- is finally in sight," the Minnesota Star Tribune reports.

**Stewart v. Cramer: The ongoing media battle between Jon Stewart and CNBC's Jim Cramer climaxed last night as Cramer went on The Daily Show for the full half-hour. Check out the entire interview (which couldn't even fit in the 30 minutes), as Stewart rips into Cramer and CNBC for irresponsible financial reporting.

**Sports Alert
*Congrats to Syracuse for coming out on top in a 6-overtime Big East Tournament quarterfinal game with UConn last night. Their 127-117 win came in the second-longest Division I game ever. (Full Disclosure: Kyle couldn't make it past double overtime). Read the AP story and watch the Sportscenter highlights here.

--Mike Memoli and Kyle Trygstad