Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Daily Strike-2/17/09-Signed and Sealed...Now to Deliver

Good Tuesday and welcome to the Daily Strike. The stimulus bill has been signed into law, and the Obama agenda now moves forward.

STIMULUS SIGNING: The President signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law today in Denver, CO, right after touring solar panels at a science museum. The President was introduced by a young entrepreneur who started his own solar energy company. The man said that his business, because of stimulus funds, will be able to add jobs instead of subtract them. Also speaking were Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and Vice President Biden. Several lawmakers were in attendance, including new Colorado Senator Michael Bennet.

In his speech before signing the bill, the President said that this bill in no way will end the economic crisis, but it is the beginning of the recovery. He touted investments in clean energy, education and health care. He also called his tax cuts to working families, "the most progressive in our history."

The President's job in the coming weeks will be to show the American public what exactly the stimulus has done. It helps that he started a website, recovery.gov, which tracks spending of the money. But more importantly, Obama needs to exhibit cases in which the stimulus funds helped create or save jobs. I just watched a report on World News Tonight about states and localities who will now be able to start long-awaited construction projects. One mayor was talking about how he will now be able to hire 500 workers to fix failing heating systems in schools. These stories need to be the focus of Obama's campaign-style appearances. It's much easier to tout tangible results than to talk about vague economic theory. Imagine the contrast of Obama talking about the specific jobs his bill created while Republicans talk about the theoretical pitfalls of government spending and theoretical virtues of corporate tax cuts. This is especially appealing politically in the wake of 8 years of failed Bush policies.

The President goes on to Arizona tomorrow to start selling the other part of his economic vision, his plan to stem home foreclosures. We'll talk more about that tomorrow.

AFGHANISTAN: We haven't really talked about foreign policy for awhile, but today the President made a big decision to send an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. In a statement, Obama mentioned the resurgence of the Taliban and the presence of Al Qaeda on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. He also says that the additional brigades are possible because of the draw down of forces in Iraq. This plan will probably meet some resistance from the grassroots on the left, but it shouldn't come as a surprise. Obama has talked about increasing troop presence in Afghanistan throughout the campaign. The goal should be, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates has articulated, a new strategy that emphasizes diplomatic and political efforts. Vote Vets, a liberal group of veterans who have opposed the War in Iraq, released a statement saying they support the plan.

POLITICAL SUCCOTASH: One item worth mentioning: It seems that new Illinois Senator Roland Burris, appointed by ousted governor Rod Blagojevich, is in deep trouble. After denying that he did any wrongdoing, he now admits to raising money for the embattled former governor after he was appointed to the seat. The matter is now being investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee (which takes forever to do anything). I don't see any way that Burris runs for reelection in 2010. Pretty soon, we might copy Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post and rank the Senate races for 2010.

HOUSE RACE UPDATE: When Hilda Solis is confirmed next Monday, there will be three vacancies in the House of Representatives, all in seats held by Democrats. The first election will be March 31st in the Strike's favorite upstate New York district to replace now Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. As we've talked about before, assembly minority leader James Tedisco is running for the Republicans against venture capitalist Scott Murphy. All of the bigwigs are out campaigning: Giuliani, Michael Steele and John Boehner for Tedisco, and Steny Hoyer and Gillibrand for Murphy. This will be a district the Republicans will heavily court, because they have a good chance with a well-known candidate in a conservative district.

The next race will be in Illinois to replace new White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. This seat will almost certainly stay in the Democratic column. The primary election will be on March 3rd, with the general coming on April 7th. The favorite based on fundraising seems to be state representative Sara Feigenholtz, who received the endorsement (and moo-la) from Emily's List, a prominent abortion rights group that gives money to Democratic candidates.

Solis' seat will also most likely stay Democratic. No date for the election has been set since Solis has not yet left the House.

There could be more vacancies if Obama nominates a Secretary of HHS or Commerce from the House or Senate.

That's it for us today. See you tomorrow! Remember to make yourself a follower of the blog if you have not already done so!!

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