2009/02/09

Morning News Roundup - February 9, 2009


From The Washington Post

Senior Obama administration officials sought to intensify pressure on Congress yesterday to pass a massive stimulus package for the crumbling economy, warning lawmakers of the consequences of delay while rescheduling the unveiling of their financial rescue plan to keep the spotlight on Capitol Hill.
...The Senate will hold a key procedural vote today on the stimulus package to determine whether a compromise struck this weekend, which removed about $100 billion in spending from the bill, will persuade enough Republicans to support the measure.
...President Obama plans to fly today to Elkhart, Ind., where the unemployment rate has soared to 15.3 percent -- about twice the national average -- before holding a prime-time news conference to urge congressional leaders to quickly reconcile the two versions of the bill.
The administration's top economic officials said yesterday that, as negotiations on the stimulus bill progress, Obama is interested in restoring support for education and for cash-strapped state and local governments -- measures that were stripped out in the Senate version of the plan.
To persuade enough moderate Republicans to vote for the measure, leaders also added tax credits for home and auto purchases, and provided relief from the alternative minimum tax.
..."The most important thing is to get this done for the sake of an economy that lost 600,000 jobs in one month," Lawrence H. Summers, director of the National Economic Council, said yesterday on ABC's "This Week."
The plan has come under intense criticism from many Republicans, who have called it unfocused and wasteful. They also have complained that they have been locked out of the bill-writing process, despite Obama's public efforts to reach out to Republicans.
..."You need to get it right. You don't want to spend these precious taxpayer dollars in the wrong way," Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Christina D. Romer, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, warned that if a large stimulus plan were not enacted, it would have a "catastrophic" impact on the economy. "I feel very strongly it's in our hands, that if we can get this package through, we can turn it around and be back on the road to growth," Romer said on CBS.
...Administration officials have emphasized that the economy needs both the stimulus package, which is aimed at creating millions of jobs and reviving consumer spending, and the financial system rescue plan, which is supposed to loosen the credit markets that provide the loans for homes, cars and businesses.




From The New York Times

WASHINGTON —
...In an effort to build support for his signature economic stimulus plan, Mr. Obama is setting off for Indiana on Monday, holding his first prime-time news conference on Monday night and heading to Florida on Tuesday. In both states, he will be working to counter Republican criticism of his $800 billion recovery package and take greater control of the debate.
...For the first 20 days of his presidency, Mr. Obama has been captive to the fixtures of government, dashing from the White House to Capitol Hill to a series of agencies for an early look at his administration. The images, while presidential, bore only a faint resemblance to the man who charmed voters with an outside-of-Washington persona.
...Since moving into the White House on Jan. 20, he has enjoyed a series of firsts, including sitting in the presidential box at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Friday night and flying aboard Marine One to the presidential retreat at Camp David on Saturday.
...On Monday night, Mr. Obama will address the nation for the first time in a prime-time appearance from the East Room of the White House and make his argument for why the economic bill is necessary. When he does, aides said, he will recount his visit earlier in the day to Elkhart, Ind., a city he visited twice during the presidential race that has seen its unemployment rate rise to 15.3 percent, largely because of layoffs in the recreational vehicle industry.
“They’ve watched their unemployment triple,” said Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary. “This isn’t just something that people debate. It’s something that they live every day.”
Mr. Obama is set to meet with the mayor, Dick Moore, who has assembled a list of 18 construction projects, from rebuilding runways at the local airport to upgrading sewer systems, that he said could help create 2,300 jobs.
...To members of Congress who have yet to say how they intend to vote on the economic stimulus plan — including Senator Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana — a bit of high-profile arm-twisting by the president will not go unnoticed on Capitol Hill. The White House is taking six members of Congress along for the ride on Monday, including one Republican, Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, whose vote the president is trying to win.
In Washington, the White House prepared Sunday for its first major presidential trip and a week that could help define Mr. Obama’s presidency with the votes on the economic bills.




From The USA Today


NEW YORK — Wall Street is hoping that the latest government intervention to fix banks and stimulate the economy will do what earlier rescue attempts could not: pave the way for a lasting stock market recovery.
This could be the most pivotal week of the year for investors. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is slated Tuesday to roll out the Obama administration's revamped plan to rehabilitate the nation's ailing banking system.
Investors will also be closely eyeing an expected Senate vote on a massive stimulus plan designed to boost the economy and create jobs.
Stocks began rallying last week amid hopes that the roughly $800 billion stimulus bill would get passed and that the bank plan will have the ingredients needed to restore confidence to the financial system, get credit flowing again and provide help to homeowners facing foreclosure.
The big question is whether the 5.2% gain last week for the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index is the start of a full-fledged stock rebound or just another failed rally built simply on hope.
...The four major rallies since March 2008 — when the government orchestrated the JPMorgan Chase rescue of Bear Stearns — have all been brief and have been followed by fresh bear market lows for stocks soon after, Strategas Research Partners says.
...Learning details of the various plans could rid the market of paralyzing uncertainty, adds Jim Paulsen at Wells Capital Management: "At least for a while, the future looks more clear."

...AND of course the Daily Pundit Roundup from Daily Kos

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/2/9/71333/84687/514/695108