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The Obama Administration: February 21st Thru The Ides Of March 2009

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This article is the fourth in a continuing series chronicling the unfolding history of the Obama Administration. The writer’s opinions are not offered, leaving the readers to arrive at their own conclusions.


February 21st/Saturday:  In his weekly radio address, President Obama announced he had ordered the U.S. Treasury to implement tax cuts for 95% of Americans. "I'm pleased to announce that this morning the Treasury Department began directing employers to reduce the amount of taxes withheld from paychecks, meaning that by April 1st, a typical family will begin taking home at least $65 more every month," the President said. The President also spoke of the fiscal submit he will convene on February 23rd. Video & Transcript

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February 22nd/Sunday: The President held his first formal dinner in the White House. Governors, who came to Washington, D.C. for the National Governors Association Conference, dined with the President.

February 23rd/Monday: The President addressed the National Governors Association. He told the governors, “…this Wednesday, our administration will begin distributing more than $15 billion in federal assistance under the Recovery Act to help you cover the costs of your Medicaid programs. I know something that is going to be of great relief to many of you. The President warned the governors to be “…wise and efficient” in the manner they use the stimulus funds provided to their states.   Transcript

The President held a Fiscal Responsibility Summit in the State Dining Room of the White House. Attending were members of Congress, Organized Labor and Business. The President said he would cut the deficit from 1.3 trillion dollars this year to 533 billion by 2013. The President claimed that most of the deficit reduction would come from winding down the war in Iraq, eliminating the Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000 a year and cutting spending. The President did admonish the Republicans,  I do want to make this point, and I think it's important. On the one hand, the majority has to be inclusive. On the other hand, the minority has to be constructive. And so to the extent that on many of these issues we are able to break out of sort of the rigid, day-to-day politics and think long term, then what you should see, I think, is the majority saying, ‘What are you ideas?’ The minority's got to then come up with those ideas and not just want to blow the thing up.” Transcript   Video

Attorney General Eric Holder visited the U.S. Detention Center in Guantanamo. The findings of a 30-day evaluation of the conditions at Gitmo were released concluding the conditions there met the standards of Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. However, deficiencies noted were solitary confinements of up to 23 hours for prisoners, mental health issues brought on by prisoner lack of information about their status as far as charges, trials, or when they may be released. Fourteen of twenty allegations of prisoner abuse were substantiated. Fourteen guards received discipline for participation in the abuse.

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February 24th/Tuesday:  The President met with Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso to discuss the economic crisis and North Korea’s nuclear threat.


The President met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates at 4:30 PM.


Hilda Solis was confirmed as the new United States Secretary of Labor.


Stephen Chu was confirmed as the new United States Secretary of Energy.


The President addressed a joint session of Congress, outlining his budget. He announced that he was assigning Vice-President Joe Biden to the task of monitoring the stimulus to make sure the money isn’t wasted. Perhaps the message from the President that received the greatest applause was when he declared, “And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country …” Transcript video


February 25th/Wednesday: President Obama named a former governor of the state of  Washington, Gary Locke, as his choice for United States Secretary of Commerce.


The President met with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Congressional Banking and Regulatory Committee members to discuss tougher regulations of the banking and financial industries.

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Stevie Wonder was honored by the President with the Library of Congress

Gershwin_Prize for Popular Song.


February 26th/Thursday: The President’s $3.6 trillon 2010 budget was sent to Capital Hill. It included the costs of both the war in Iraq and in Afganistan. The budget also end subsidies to Agribusiness, and ends the payments to banks to distribute student loans by issuing such loans directly from the government. The budget allocates $634 billion to expand healthcare coverage to be paid by taxing the wealthy and trimming payments to insurance companys, hospitals and doctors and ending the tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. The budget also calls for the establishment of a National Infrastructure Bank. Transcript of the President's Budget Speech

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

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