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The Obama Administration: March 7 Thru 20, 2009

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Headlined to H3 3/27/09

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Day46/March 7th/Saturday: In his Weekly Address To The Nation, the President detailed his plans to fix our ailing economy, noting that reforming healthcare is necessary to ensure our long term fiscal health. The Obama family spent the weekend at Camp David.

Day47/March8th/Sunday: The President and First Lady attended a special event honoring United States Senator Ted Kennedy on the senator’s 77th birthday.

Day48/March 9th/Monday: The President signed an Executive Order ending the previous administration’s ban on stem cell research. The order overturns funding limits set by the Bush Administration, expands usable stem cell lines and places the development of ethics guidelines under the National Institute of Health (NIH). Transcript 

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the President has directed federal agencies to initiate reviews for all of former President George W. Bush’s signing statements.

        "But Mr. Obama also signaled that he intends to use signing statements himself if Congress sends him legislation that has provisions he decides are unconstitutional," reported the New York Times. "He pledged to use a modest approach when doing so, but said there was a role for the practice if used appropriately."

Day49/March 10th/Tuesday: The President spoke on education reform at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's 19th Annual Legislative Conference at the Washington Marriott at Metro Center. The President said teacher salaries should be linked to student performance and expanding innovative charter schools. Merit pay for teachers has met with stiff resistance by teacher unions. The President also said longer schools days and more schooldays would help the children in the United States compete in the world. Video

The President met with the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon  in the Oval Office.

Day50/March11th/Wednesday: The President sought to recognize International Women’s Day by signing an Executive Order creating the White House Council On Women and Girls. Transcript

First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paired at the State Department to present awards to activists who have fought gender discrimination in their countries.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi

Behind closed doors, the President signed the $410 billion Omnibus Budget Bill, a budget left over from the Bush Administration, passed by Congress and sent for the President’s signature just in time to prevent a midnight shutdown of the federal government. The President spoke about the nearly $8 billion earmarks in the bill and called for future budgets to be more transparent: 

        “These principles begin with a simple concept: earmarks must have a legitimate and worthy public purpose. Earmarks that members do seek must be aired on those members' websites in advance, so the public and the press can examine them and judge their merit for themselves. And each earmark must be open to scrutiny at public hearings, where members will have to justify their expense to the taxpayer. Next, any earmark for a for-profit private company should be subject to the same competitive bidding requirements as other federal contracts. The awarding of earmarks to private companies is the single most corrupting element of this practice, as witnessed by some of the indictments and convictions we have seen. Private companies differ from the public entities that Americans rely on every day - schools, police stations, fire departments - and if they are seeking taxpayer dollars, then they should be evaluated with a higher level of scrutiny. Furthermore, it should go without saying that an earmark must never, ever be traded for political favors. And finally, if my administration evaluates an earmark and determines that it has no legitimate public purpose, we will seek to eliminate it, and we will work with Congress to do so.” Transcript 

Vice-President Joe Biden announced the President’s choice for director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske.  

 

Day51/March 12th/Thursday: The President’s choice for Deputy United States Treasury Secretary, Wall Street lawyerH. Rodgin Cohen withdrew from consideration. He provided no reason.

 

First Lady Michell Obama visited soldiers and their families at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She urged every citizen to make an effort to locate and reach out to a soldier who may need a little help. Transcript

 

Vivek Kundra took a leave as United States Chief Information Officer after the FBI raided the offices of Washington, D.C.’s chief technology offices that Kundra had headed. Though, reportedly, Kundra is not a target of the FBI, his former aid, Yusuf Acar, is, according to Wired Magazine, for a federal bribery scheme.

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Retired, Robert Arend was president of an AFSCME local from 1997-2007.
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