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Monday, February 9, 2009


clips from last night's press conference...

the first question/answer:

on dealing with Republicans:


Maddow on the three types of Republican responses to the bill:


Noam Schieber thinks Obama has played the Republicans, rope-a-dope style:

Obama has completely defined the stimulus narrative on his own terms. To the average voter, Obama has been earnest and conciliatory while the Republicans have been cynical, self-serving, and puerile. Which, if the past is any guide, is precisely the moment he’ll start playing hardball.

In fact, Obama spent Monday basically telegraphing these intentions. The headlines from his trip to Elkhart, Indiana, focused mostly on his comments about the urgency of the stimulus. But the day’s key moment took place toward the end of the town hall meeting. After a weekend in which the White House scrupulously avoided any indication it preferred the House version of the stimulus to the stingier Senate compromise, Obama let it be known that he’d like to see some of the Senate’s education cuts restored.

Then, at his press conference last night, Obama sounded like a man who was done soliciting ideas and was ready to lay out the stark terms of debate: A vote against for the stimulus is a vote against jobs—in particular, the 4 million the plan would save or create. (He used the word “jobs” 19 times in his 1,000-word preamble.) Once the questioning began, he explicitly announced the end to the bipartisan phase of this operation: “I think that, as I continue to make these overtures, over time, hopefully that will be reciprocated,” he said. “But understand the bottom line that I've got right now, which is what's happening to the people of Elkhart and what's happening across the country. I can't afford to see Congress play the usual political games.”

Mark Nickolas is also optimistic:

You take this to the bank. Once House and Senate conferees sit down to hammer out the final version of the bill, the education spending will be back in the bill and some of the more egregious tax cuts will be removed. Obama will then dare Senate Republicans to vote against final passage. Actually, he might dare Republicans to filibuster the bill and run the risk of a massive backlash of their obstructionism in the face of a genuine effort by Obama to work together. There is no way that Mitch McConnell will be dumb enough to block such critical legislation with less than 40 votes.

Instead, Senate Republicans are going to scream that Obama and congressional Dems stabbed them in the back in conference and that the final bill wasn't what they passed. No one is going to care about their bitching. The public views them as a pack of Limbaugh-led obstructionists trying to block what a very popular bipartisan president is trying to do to help address a crisis he did not cause.

Ultimately, the bill that Obama signs next week is going to be a lot more like the version the House passed than the one the Senate is about to pass. Also, the Republicans are going to walk away from this showdown with major scars and even more unpopular with the public.

Finally, and counter-intuitively, this whole process has actually given Obama an even better chance at passing his larger goals like universal health care or tackling climate change because the Republicans will have lost the benefit of the doubt in the minds of the public that simply views them as more concerned about the 2010 and 2012 elections than working together with the president on things that will help the country.

For balance here's a good dose of pessimism. First sentence:

Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed?



I was there when the secretary and the chairman of the Federal Reserve came those days and talked to members of Congress about what was going on... Here's the facts. We don't even talk about these things.

On Thursday, at about 11 o'clock in the morning, the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous drawdown of money market accounts in the United States to a tune of $550 billion being drawn out in a matter of an hour or two.

The Treasury opened up its window to help. They pumped $105 billion into the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide. We were having an electronic run on the banks.

They decided to close the operation, close down the money accounts, and announce a guarantee of $250,000 per account so there wouldn't be further panic and there. And that's what actually happened.

If they had not done that their estimation was that by two o'clock that afternoon, $5.5 trillion would have been drawn out of the money market system of the United States, would have collapsed the entire economy of the United States, and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed.

Now we talked at that time about what would have happened if that happened. It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it.


Everyone's trying to figure out what Geithner's up to.


Nobel Prize-winning economist Joe Stiglitz explains some of the issues behind the bank bailout stuff:




Glenn Greenwald and others have expressed extreme dissapointment over the Obama's Admin's decision to continue the Bush Admin's controversial tactic of using the "State Secrets privilege" to quash inconvenient lawsuits. And indeed, it seems really bad. Marc Ambinder has been making some calls and doing the journalism thing and his piece sheds some needed light on what Team Obama's thinking on the matter.


I forgot to mention in yesterday's post that I saw the film Milk over the weekend and it's really good. Go see it!:

Now I need to finally get around to seeing the documentary:

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