The First Draft: Green shoots and budget talk

May 12, 2009

USA-OBAMA/After the Obama team’s big announcement on health care and an even bigger deficit, now comes the hard part — actually sitting down and figuring out how much it’s going to cost, and how to make it cost less. President Barack Obama’s first public appearance today is a round-table discussion with business leaders on cutting employer health care costs.

Later, behind closed doors at the White House, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with Commanding General Raymond Odierno, the head of the Multi-National Force-Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill. Then the president meets with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, one day after Gates replaced the top U.S. Afghanistan commander.

In congressional action, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano faces questions about her department’s 2010 budget from both sides of Capitol Hill. Lisa Jackson, who heads the Environmental Protection Agency, also faces budget questioning from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Despite talk of early signs of economic recovery, a U.S. Federal Reserve official sounded a note of caution. Things are better than they were, but the crisis isn’t over yet, Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart said: “I believe that conditions are now calmer but it is too soon to breathe easy.”

As if to confirm this, the U.S. trade gap widened in March for the first time in seven months — but not as much as some analysts had feared. So though the news isn’t good, it isn’t as bad as it could be.

Perhaps this counts as one of those “green shoots” of economic recovery we keep hearing about? You tell us: is this a sign the economy is turning?

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Young (President Obama in the White House Rose Garden, April 28, 2009)

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