4 p.m. ET: Well, that was fast. Barely a day after Democratic leaders were warning that Congress might have to work right through next week on the economic stimulus package, they announced this afternoon that they have a deal on a $789.5 billion package. No need to put off your recess week vacation plans any longer.
So, how's it playing? To use a cliche we'll be hearing quite a bit in the next day or so, the devil is in the details. But Ben Smith suggests "it's hard not to see this as a pretty clean win for the president," in that both the size and timing of the package are basically what President Obama wanted. TPM reflects a similar view, quoting a reader saying, "A Win Is a Win."
The larger question is whether Obama will be happy with a "lonely victory" -- i.e. a measure whose backers are 99 percent Democrats. It is possible he will swing a few more Republican votes his way before final passage, but the bottom line is that this is the president's baby, for better or for worse.
8 a.m. ET: The markets were not a fan of the bank rescue plan unveiled by the Obama administration Tuesday, but President Obama's own stock still appears to be doing quite well.
Obama's approval rating is at 63 percent, according to Gallup, down only slightly from when he was sworn into office. More importantly, he is far more popular than either party in Congress, and certainly better-liked by the public than the Wall Street community that reacted tepidly to his financial resuce plan. And Obama will certainly need that political capital, as he works to sell that bailout and convince the House and Senate to agree on a compromise stimulus package that neither chamber will necessarily love.
Miracle of miracles, that stimulus deal might actually be done sooner rather than later. Max Baucus even called it "very possible" an agreement could be reached today. Key lawmakers worked into the wee hours Tuesday night, along with Rahm Emanuel and Peter Orszag, and Harry Reid said "a significant amount of progress" was made.
Selling the bailout plan will likely be a more difficult and longer-term proposition, as the proposal got mostly negative coverage Tuesday in addition to that sour verdict from the stock market. Tim Geithner himself also didn't get very good reviews for his performance, though it's hard to imagine the administation could possibly have unveiled a plan that really pleased all the stakeholders -- Wall Street, Congress and the public -- at the same time. At the moment, it seems that none of those three constituencies is happy, but there is time for Obama to work on them.
In the House, there was much attention Tuesday on three of the chamber's most senior Democrats -- some of it positive, some of it not so much. John Dingell was feted by Nancy Pelosi, with whom he has repeatedly clashed in recent years, as well as Bill Clinton and other luminaries for his reaching the milestone of being the longest-serving House member in history. John Murtha, another party titan, faces a potentially troubling spate of press coverage stemming from the revelation that a second lobbying firm with close ties to him has been raided by the FBI. (Pete Visclosky and Jim Moran could also be under scrutiny.) And Charles Rangel faced yet another unsuccessful GOP effort to strip him of his chairmanship as he is the subject an ethics investigation over multiple allegations.
Hard as it might be to govern in Washington right now, perhaps politicians here should be thankful they don't have to run state governments, nearly all of which require balanced budgets. In California, for example, the state is set to lay off thousands of workers unless the Legislature agrees on a budget plan that drastically cuts spending and raises taxes (the exact opposite of what Congress is about to do). Makes you wonder why Meg Whitman really wants to be governor of the Golden State.
February 11, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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