Gregg Backs Out

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) withdraws from consideration as Secretary of Commerce over “irresolvable conflicts” on President Obama’s economic stimulus package.

Dodd Will Write Book on Financial Crisis

Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) is writing a book on the congressional bailout of the financial services industry, titled Thirteen Days: How the Financial Crisis Changed the Politics of Washington. It will be published in June.

According to Publishers Weekly, the book “will provide an intimate look at how, over the course of 13 days last September, a financial crisis led to panic and meltdown. Dodd, the chair of the Senate banking committee, will also describe how he and others acted swiftly to try to save the American economy.”

The book is obviously modeled on Robert F. Kennedy’s Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Hopes for Second-Half Recovery Fade

Economists in the latest Wall Street Journal survey, while still mostly projecting growth in U.S. gross domestic product by the third quarter, largely agree that a second-half recovery is looking much less likely now than it did a few months ago

Staging the Stimulus Bill Signing

The AP reports the White House is trying to decide “where, when and how Obama would sign the stimulus bill into law. Obama aides want to make a splash with the event, either by making it as high-profile as possible at the White House, or staging a ceremony on the road.”

In addition, Obama will travel to Denver and Phoenix next week to convince Americans the plan will work.

Plouffe Demands Media Blackout

Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe ordered a speech he was to give on the campaign to be “off the record,” ABC News reports. With a multi-million dollarbook deal, he’s obviously not interested in giving away his observations for free.

However, Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank “handed out reporters’ notebooks and pens to the lunch participants” as they entered the ballroom, “urging them to take notes on Plouffe’s remarks and promising to cite their account of the speech in a future Washington Post column.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“It seems that bipartisanship is not dead, but on life support.”

— House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), quoted by Politico.

Nixon Refused to Help Reagan

A History of the End of the Cold WarVanity Fair runs excerpts from The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan by James Mann, which reports on a secret White House meeting in 1987 — in the midst of his historic summits with Mikhail Gorbachev — where Reagan sought Richard Nixon’s help for his conciliatory diplomacy with the Soviet Union, and Nixon refused to give it.

The meeting marked Nixon’s first time back in the White House residence since his resignation. Mann reports that Nixon concluded that “there is no way [Reagan] can ever be allowed to participate in a private meeting with Gorbachev.” Nixon also felt that Reagan looked “far older, more tired, and less vigorous in person than in public,” and that he “did not seem to be on top of the issues.” He was “certainly in no way as knowledgeable as Gorbachev, for example, which of course would not be surprising.”

Talent Will Not Run for Senate

Former Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO) will not be a candidate to replace retiring Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) in 2010, the Kansas City Star reports.

“Elective officer further down the road, though, is not out of the question for Talent, who was displaced by Democrat Claire McCaskill in 2006.”

Just 39% Believe in Evolution

A new Gallup Poll shows that only 39% of Americans say they “believe in the theory of evolution,” while 25% say they do not believe in the theory, and another 36% don’t have an opinion either way.

Key finding: “These attitudes are strongly related to education and, to an even greater degree, religiosity.”

Important Day in Minnesota Senate Race Trial

Lawyers for Al Franken (D) and Norm Coleman (R) “will trade arguments today on whether several types of rejected absentee ballots should be reconsidered or rejected once and for all,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

“The ruling could both expand the number of rejected absentee ballots to be counted, and shrink the amount of time necessary to run through them in court.”

Quote of the Day

“The House guys complain that you are rolling us. We’re not rolling anyone. We’re looking to get 60 votes.”

— Vice President Joe Biden, in an interview with David Broder.

Maybe Not That Close to Economic Armageddon

A few days ago, we highlighted remarks made by Rep. Paul Kanjorksi (D-PA) on how close we apparently came to economic collapse last fall. 

Felix Salmon doubted it and now is “finally able to squash it with some hard figures: there never was a $500 billion outflow from any asset class in the space of a couple of hours or even weeks, and the Fed never shut down or froze any money-market accounts.”

Ultimately, he finds the $500 billion figure in an anonymously sourced New York Postpiece making similar claims.

UpdateBen Smith asked Kanjorski’s office and was also referred to the Post article.

Senate Republicans Face Tough 2010

Larry Sabato takes an early look at the 2010 U.S. Senate races and notes that “even after losing six net Senate seats in 2006 and another seven or eight (pending the Minnesota resolution) in 2008, the GOP still has more seats up (19) than Democrats (17) in 2010.”

“Even worse for the GOP, by almost any reckoning, there are more vulnerable Republican seats than Democratic ones on the 2010 ballot. The only four elected retirees at this point are Republicans: Sam Brownback of Kansas, Kit Bond of Missouri, Mel Martinez of Florida, and George Voinovich of Ohio. The seats in Florida, Missouri, and Ohio are highly competitive-as is the New Hampshire seat, where Sen. Gregg retired early to take the Commerce post. Should Al Franken be seated, a single net gain for the Democrats could get them to the semi-magic ‘sixty’ that can theoretically shut off GOP filibusters. They could easily go beyond this minimal gain, if electoral conditions in 2010 permit.”

Looking ahead: “There will be a big reversal in 2012, with 24 Democratic seats to only 9 Republican ones — but that’s getting too far ahead of the story.”

Stimulus Winners and Losers

First Read looks at the winners and losers as the economic stimulus bill nears passage. 

“The obvious winner here, of course, is Obama, who will get the first big victory of his four-week-old presidency. Other winners are Collins/Snowe/Specter (who proved that they will control what passes in the 111th Congress), Harry Reid (who got the 60-plus votes he needed), Joe Lieberman (who helped behind the scenes with Collins), White House aide Phil Schiliro (who played an unsung role on the Hill), the Republican Party (which demonstrated unity after its big losses in November), and No.2 House Republican Eric Cantor (who raised his profile during the debate, although he took a BIG hit yesterday for that profane AFSCME video his office released).” 

“The losers, in our opinion, are Nancy Pelosi (some House priorities lost out in the end) and governors (who didn’t get all the money they wanted and will have to make some tough cuts before a re-election year).”

Will Stimulus Win Help or Hurt Obama’s Agenda?

New York Times: “It is a quick, sweet victory for the new president, and potentially a historic one. The question now is whether the $789 billion economic stimulus plan agreed to by Congressional leaders on Wednesday is the opening act for a more ambitious domestic agenda from President Obama or a harbinger of reduced expectations.”

The Fix says “the fight over what the legislation means for average Americans and how it will impact the political landscape for both parties is only just beginning.”

Democrats Fear Burris Candidacy

“Democrats in Washington and Illinois are becoming increasingly concerned that Sen. Roland W. Burris will be a weak Senate candidate if he runs in 2010,” reportsPolitico.

“Burris hasn’t even said he’s running, but the behind-the-scenes debate within the Democratic Party is already fraught with concerns about race, fundraising and the Rod Blagojevich scandal… The fear among Illinois Democrats is that a Burris candidacy would create a nasty primary that would split the Democratic electorate between black voters and white voters, giving Republicans a chance to fill the political vacuum. 

A poll released yesterday confirms Burris would have an uphill fight.

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