Tales from the Trail

First Draft: double vision

WASHINGTON – Don’t rub your eyes. Despite the early hour, you weren’t seeing things when White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs somehow managed to be in two places at once.

He showed up on ABC and NBC morning television shows at the same time to talk about how President Barack Obama has no hard feelings toward Republicans who refused to vote for the economic stimulus, and in fact had them over to the White House last night for a cocktail party among other guests.OBAMA

It was a neat trick, Gibbs being questioned on different channels by different TV personalities about the same issue at the same time.

The party must have made for some interesting conversation over drinks, or perhaps it was all smiles since Obama got the bill passed and Republicans had their (no) say.

More bad economic news. U.S. weekly jobless claims rose by 3,000 to 588,000 and U.S.  durable goods orders posted another decline in December, falling 2.6 percent.

First draft: House to vote on economic stimulus

President Barack Obama faces his first big political challenge as the House of Representatives is due to vote on a $825 billion package to stem the U.S. recession. 

OBAMA/Despite a trip to Capitol HIll to woo Republicans on Tuesday, most House Republicans are expected to oppose the proposal. But Democrats were confident they had enough votes to get the package approved as they seek a final bill for Obama to sign into law by mid-February.

The Federal Reserve meets to review options on how to restore U.S. growth, with a statement by the Federal Open Market Committee around 2:15 p.m. EST (1915 GMT). The Fed is discussing how to revive the economy now that traditional interest-rate cutting tools have been exhausted. Fed officials are expected to discuss uncoventional measures to improve financial market operations.

Contraceptives not the kind of stimulus Boehner can believe in

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama’s $825 billion plan to boost the recession-bound U.S. economy has some elements that, well, aren’t the sort of USAstimulus that House Minority Leader John Boehner says he can believe in.
 
“I’m concerned about the size of the package, and I’m concerned about some of the spending that’s in there,” Boehner complained Friday after a meeting at White House.
 
“How can you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives? How does that stimulate the economy?”
 
Hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives?
 
The Ohio congressman’s office explains. One proposal included in the stimulus package would expand Medicaid family planning services to all 50 states.
 
The proposal would enable people who don’t qualify for Medicaid to receive the family planning services, including contraceptives.
 
“Whether or not you think that is good public policy, it has nothing to do with an economic stimulus,” a spokesman for Boehner said.
 
For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Boehner watches Obama speak to press)

First Draft: Obama focuses on foreign affairs

GUANTANAMO/OBAMA

President Barack Obama is expected to focus on foreign policy and issue an order to close Guantanamo prison within a year.

But the state of the economy remains a top concern with Wall Street poised to open lower after the government reported the number of workers filing for new jobless claims rose more than expected last week. House starts and permits fell to a record low.

Congress is busy pulling together a huge economic stimulus plans and House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer said the House was expected to vote next week on the $825 billion plan. Hoyer also said the White House would host a bipartisan meeting on the plan on Friday. Republicans had sought more input into the package.

The First Draft, Monday, Jan. 5

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President-elect Barack Obama woke up today in the tony Hay-Adams Hotel, across Lafayette Park from the White House.

Soon after sunrise, a black SUV was spotted carrying Obama’s younger daughter Sasha to her first day at Sidwell Friends School elementary campus in suburban Bethesda, Maryland. Older daughter Malia will go to Sidwell Friends’ middle school campus in Washington DC.
The Obamas arrived in Washington late Sunday, an extra-early move so the girls could start school at the beginning of the semester. Most presidents-elect arrive on January 15. That’s when the Obama family will move into Blair House, directly across the street from the White House. The new first family moves into the executive mansion on Inauguration Day, JBOXING/anuary 20.

Top news on morning TV shows was New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s withdrawal as Obama’s chosen commerce secretary in the face of a legal inquiry. Richardson, a former Democratic  presidential candidate, has denied wrongdoing in connection with the investigation of a California-based financial company that had done business with the New Mexico state government.

from MacroScope:

Sssh. Don’t say stimulus

William Safire, the language maven whose musings on how we use words have graced The New York Times and other newspapers for decades, has discovered something about the current crisis. Not for the first time, politicians are scrambling to avoid using common words that might get too close to the truth.

This time the target is the economy, specifically what needs to be done about it. In a column, Safire notes that some Democrats, notably the incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, are steering away from using the world "stimulus" when referring to efforts to, er, stimulate the economy. "Recovery" is being used instead. As in, recovery plan.

Who could argue with that? Republicans, apparently. According to Safire, they are favouring "spending", presumably as in spend, spend, tax, tax etc.