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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/24/09

The Obama Administration: Ten Days: February 11th Thru 20th 2009

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February 11th/Wednesday: President Barack Obama  stumped for the American Recovery And Reinvestment Act in Springfield, Virginia at the site of an infrastructure construction project. Transcript  

Met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates.


First Lady Michelle Obama  addressed students at Howard University and spoke about balancing work and family. Transcript


Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke arrived in Bashawa, Pakistan.


February 12th/Thursday: United States Senator (Republican-New Hampshire) Judd Gregg abruptly withdrew his nomination for Commerce Secretary over disagreements with the stimulus bill and objections to the Administration’s policies toward the 2010 Census


The President addressed workers at a Caterpillar plant in Peoria, Illinois. CEO Jim Owens serves as one of the administration’s economic advisors. Caterpillar has laid off over 22,000 employees in the past year. The President believes that highway and infrastructure projects will permit Caterpillar to restore many of those jobs. Transcript


The President gave the keynote address at the Abraham Lincoln Association's annual banquet in Springfield, Illinois on the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. The President declared that the pendulum had swung to far to the concept that the solution to national problem comes best when government steps out of the way. He said,  Such knee-jerk distain for government, this constant rejection of any common endeavor, cannot rebuild our levees or our roads or our bridges, it can’t refurbish our schools or modernize our healthcare system, it can’t lead to the next medical discovery or yield the research and technology that will spark a clean energy economy__only a nation can do those things.


Leon Panetta was confirmed as the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.


Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrook arrived in Kabul.


February 13th/Friday: The President Obama addressed members of The Business Council in the East Room of the White House. Transcript


 Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner met with Russian Finance MinisterAlexei Kudrin in Rome, Italy, site of the G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting.


By a vote of 60-38, with only three Republican Senators voting in favor (Olympia Snow and Susan Collins of Maine and Arlen Spector of Pennsylvania) the United States Senate passed the American Recovery And Reinvestment Act. According to the The New York Times , the stimulus will provide 787 billion dollars in:


(1)   Tax Cuts-282 billion

(2)   Public Works Projects-100 billion

(3)   Transportation Projects-50 billion

(4)   Help States With Medicaid Costs-87.1 billion

(5)   Education And Job Training-69.2 billion

(6)   Extension Of Unemployment Benefits-35.8 billion

(7)   Health Coverage Under Cobra-25.1 billion

(8)   Food Assistance-20.9 billion

(9) Modernization Of Health Records-17.2 billion


February 14th/Saturday: In his weekly radio address, the President praised Congress for passing the American Recovery And Reinvestment Act.


Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke met with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.      


The President and First Lady spent the weekend in Chicago, Illinois.


February 15th/Sunday: Jill Zuckman, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, confirmed that she was leaving the newspaper to become director of public affairs as assistant to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.


February 16th/Monday: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  arrived in Tokyo, Japan.


February 17th/Tuesday: President Obama signed the American Recovery And Reinvestment Act in Denver, Colorado.  Transcript of the President's speech


The President announced the deployment of 17,000 soldiers and support personnel to Afghanistan as a “remissioning” of troops previously scheduled to be deployed in Iraq. The President's Statement On Afghanistan


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a town hall style meeting at Tokyo University.


February 18th/Wednesday:  The President unveiled his 75 billion dollar mortgage rescue plan in Mesa, Arizona that:

 (1)   will make it possible for an estimated four to five million currently ineligible homeowners who receive their mortgages through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to refinance their mortgages at lower rates”(2)   will create new incentives so that lenders work with borrowers to modify the terms of sub-prime loans at risk of default and foreclosure(3)   will take major steps to keep mortgage rates low for millions of middle class families looking to secure new mortgages(4)   will pursue a wide range of reforms designed to help families stay in their homes and avoid foreclosure

The President warned the plan, ”… will not rescue the unscrupulous or irresponsible by throwing good taxpayer money after bad loans. It will not help speculators who took risky bets on a rising market and bought homes not to live in but to sell. It will not help dishonest lenders who acted irresponsibility, distorting the facts and dismissing the fine print at the expense of buyers who didn't know better. And it will not reward folks who bought homes they knew from the beginning they would never be able to afford. In short, this plan will not save every home.” Transcript


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Indonesia where she hoped to redefine U.S. relations with the Islamic world. This was the second stop on Clinton’s Asia tour.


February 19th/Thursday: The President traveled to Ottawa, Canada for a working lunch to discuss trade and climate issues and Canada’s participation in Afghanistan with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This was President Obama’s first foreign trip. The President and the Prime Minister held a joint press conference. Transcript


The President announced Adolfo Carrion will become the White House Director of Urban Affairs.  

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Seoul, South Korea for talks on defusing the military threat posed by North Korea. Clinton announced that her envoy to North Korea will be Stephen Bosworth. This was the third stop on Clinton’s Asia tour.


February 20th/Friday: The President addressed mayors from across the United States in the East Room of the White House.   Transcript


The President extended the federal office of Gulf Coast rebuilding, calling it a "first step of a sustained commitment by my administration to rebuild now, stronger than ever." President Obama also announced plans to send his Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to tour the region in early March.


The President issued a ban on four budget gimmicks the previous Administration used to make the deficit appear smaller.The new accounting involves spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Medicare reimbursements to physicians and the cost of disaster responses. But the biggest adjustment will deal with revenues from the alternative minimum tax.  source: New York Times


The Obama Administration  told a federal judge that military detainees in Afghanistan have no legal right to challenge their imprisonment there, embracing a key argument of the previous Administration’s legal team.


First Lady Michelle Obama visited the U.S. Department of Transportation. Transcript

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