Obama's First 100 Days: What He's Done So Far
President Barack Obama's ambitious new budget faced bipartisan skepticism Thursday as key senators questioned the administration's long-term budget outlook and the deficits it envisions rising in the middle of the next decade.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner defended it in testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, saying current increases in spending are short term and will have to be substantially reduced to get the country back into fiscal shape.
Still, the Democratic chairman of the Budget Committee, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, called the track of future deficits "unsustainable" and singled out Obama's proposal for spending $634 billion on health care over the next 10 years.
"Some of us have a real pause about the notion of putting substantially more money into the health care system when we've already have a bloated system," he said.
Keep track of what Obama has been doing since taking office:
Day 51: Obama Targets 'Earmarks' in New Spending Bill (Mar. 11)
- Obama agreed to sign an "imperfect" spending bill to keep the government running, but he called for a crackdown on lawmakers adding "earmarks"—or pet projects—to legislation. Obama spoke about a $410 billion spending bill—passed by Congress earlier this week—which has been heavily criticized because of many earmarks. (Full Story)
Day 50: The Halfway Point (Mar. 10)
In his first 50 days, Obama has moved at a lightning pace, passing a $787 billion economic stimulus plan in his first three weeks, announcing financial rescue and housing plans, disclosing a $3.55 trillion budget, kick starting discussions on health care reform, and releasing a withdrawal plan from Iraq and a boost in troop numbers in Afghanistan.
He has also signed orders to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, tighten ethics rules for Executive Branch employees, raise fuel efficiency standards and lift the restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
At the same time, there have also been problems with three Cabinet nominees who withdrew, the criticism that Obama is turning his back on his proposal for more bipartisanship and his calls for fewer earmarks, and the imminent fights over his budget blueprint and health care.
But despite the ups and downs during the first 50 days, experts argue that Obama seems to be ahead of the curve in terms of efficiency compared to some of his predecessors.
Obama’s 60 percent approval rating in the most recent NBC/WSJ poll also implies that many Americans remain satisfied with the president so far.
Day 49: Obama OKs Stem Cell Research (Mar. 9)
- Obama lifted some restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, angering many abortion opponents but cheering those who believe the study could produce treatments for many diseases.(Full Story)
Day 48: More Appointed to Treasury Department (Mar. 8)
- Obama has chosen three people to join the senior ranks of the Treasury Department, where a slow pace of hiring has put the agency on the defensive. The White House said Obama is nominating David S. Cohen to be assistant secretary in dealing with terrorist financing; Alan B. Krueger for assistant secretary for economic policy; and Kim N. Wallace as assistant secretary for legislative affairs. (Full Story)
Day 47: Discovering Opportunity in the Crisis (Mar. 7)
- As the dreadful economic news piles up, Obama challenged the nation Saturday to not just hang in there but rather to see the hard times as a chance to "discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis." (Full Story)
- Obama used his weekly address to detail his plans to fix our ailing economy, noting that reforming healthcare is necessary to ensure our long term fiscal health. (Watch the video here)
Day 46: Obama Touts Economic Gains (Mar. 6)
- Obama tried to highlight some good news and tout his economic plan, but the grim reality of plunging employment and faltering stock markets once again stepped on his message. Obama headed to hard-hit Ohio to attend a graduation ceremony for 25 Columbus, Ohio, police recruits whose jobs were saved by money from the $787 billion stimulus package he signed into law last month. (Full Story)
- Democrats who control the U.S. Senate were unable to round up the votes to end debate and pass a $410 billion bill to fund many government operations through Sept. 30, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.(Full Story)
- Obama will hold an event on Monday at which he will sign an executive order related to stem cells, an administration official said on Friday. (Full Story)
Day 45: Obama Team Working 'Around the Clock' (Mar. 5)
- Debt-strapped homeowners unable to afford their mortgages could get their monthly payments lowered in bankruptcy court under a controversial element of Obama's housing rescue plan. (Full Story)
- Obama's administration is working "around the clock" to form an approach to the challenges facing General Motors and the auto industry, a White House spokeswoman said. (Full Story)
- Obama invited more than 120 people to the White House to discuss how to fix the world's costliest health care system, one that still leaves millions uninsured. A broad group of doctors, patients, business owners and insurers gathered for a forum in hopes of building support for big changes in health care. (Full Story)
Day 44: New Housing Plan Launched (Mar. 4)
- Obama will order a crackdown on waste and cost overruns in U.S. government procurement that he estimates will save up to $40 billion a year, an administration official said. (Full Story)
- The Obama administration launched a $75 billion foreclosure relief plan, as new data showed one in five U.S. homeowners with mortgages owe more than their house is worth. (Full Story)
Day 43: Stimulus Package Looking Hopeful? (Mar. 3)
- The stimulus package may pack a big punch in the current crisis because households and businesses struggling to get credit are more likely to spend the money, a top White House adviser said. (Full Story)
- Obama said he saw little hope of near-term improvement in the U.S. economy after a staggering drop in gross domestic product in the final three months of last year. (Full Story)
- The Senate voted overwhelmingly to preserve thousands of earmarks in a $410 billion spending bill, brushing aside Sen. McCain's claim that Obama and Congress are merely conducting business as usual in a time of economic hardship. McCain's attempt to strip out an estimated 8,500 earmarks failed on a vote of 63-32. (Full Story)
- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will press Obama for details on his plans to fix the ailing U.S. financial sector in talks that will focus on the global economic crisis. The two leaders will also discuss ways to tighten lax financial regulations, a major topic for the summit of the Group of 20 developed and emerging economies that Brown will host in London on April 2. (Full Story)
Day 42: Health Reform Positions Nominated (Mar. 2)
- Obama named Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to lead his ambitious health reform effort. He also named former Clinton administration health official Nancy-Ann DeParle to serve as head of the newly created White House Office for Health Reform, which will help coordinate Obama's health reform agenda with Congress. (Full Story)
- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown hopes to forge an alliance this week with Obama to combat the global financial crisis and reinforce what London calls its special relationship with Washington. Brown will be the first European leader to meet Obama since he was inaugurated. (Full Story)
Day 40: Big Budget Fight Ahead (Feb. 28)
- A combative Obama warned he was bracing for a fight against powerful lobbyists and special interests who sought to pick apart the $3.55 trillion budget he wants to advance his agenda of reform.(Full Story)
- Your Weekly Address: Obama explains how the budget he sent to Congress will fulfill the promises he made as a candidate, and assures special interests that he is ready for the fight. (Watch the video here)
Day 39: Obama's Tax Breaks Applauded (Feb. 27)
- The Obama administration's autos task force demonstrated a "genuine willingness" to understand the plight of GM and the restructuring plan it has submitted to the government, the company said. (Full Story)
- Many Americans applauded the spending plans and tax breaks set out in Obama's record budget, while others questioned the yawning deficit it would entail. (Full Story)
- Obama nominated Jon Leibowitz to be chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, the White House said. (Full Story)
- The Obama administration is trying to walk a public relations tightrope in aiding the banking industry. On one side is an angry electorate that wants to see a wounded financial services industry embarrassed and penalized. On the other is a group of powerful institutions whose survival and revival are critical to the success of the President’s costly and controversial economic stimulus plan.(Full Story)
Day 38: Additional $250 Billion Needed to Help Financial System? (Feb. 26)
- Obama has forecast a 2009 deficit of $1.75 trillion in a budget proposal that sets goals of overhauling the healthcare system and shoring up the US economy. (Full Story)
- Obama will propose further tax increases on the affluent to help pay for his promise to make health care more accessible and affordable, calling for stricter limits on the benefits of itemized deductions taken by the wealthiest households. (Full Story)
- Obama is sending Congress a "hard choices" budget that would boost taxes on the wealthy and curtail Medicare payments to insurance companies and hospitals to make way for a $634 billion down payment on universal health care. (Full Story)
- Banks that are big enough to destabilize markets should be subject to tighter regulatory oversight, and some rules ought to be internationally agreed, said White House economic adviser Paul Volcker. (Full Story)
- Obama penciled into his budget the possibility that he may request an additional $250 billion to help fix the troubled financial system. The figure, described as a "placeholder" and not a specific funding request, would support asset purchases of $750 billion via government financial stabilization programs, administration officials said. (Full Story)
Day 37: Obama Lays Out Reform Plans, House Approves $410 Billion Legislation (Feb. 25)
- With one of their own in the White House, Democrats in Congress are moving to give domestic government agencies 8 percent more money, on average, to spend this year atop the whopping $787 billion in economic stimulus funds. (Full Story)
- Obama's budget chief Peter Orszag said that economic stimulus money approved by Congress must be spent "quickly and wisely" if the administration is to boost the economy and create 3.5 million jobs. (Full Story)
- Obama nominated Gary Locke to be U.S. commerce secretary, turning to a West Coast politician with a history of working with China after his two previous nominees backed out. (Full Story)
- Obama called on Congress to send him legislation that places a market-based cap on U.S. carbon polluting emissions and pushes the production of more renewable energy. (Full Story)
- Financial institutions that pose a serious risk to markets should be subject to serious government oversight, said Obama. Obama also said: "But let me be clear—the choice we face is not between an oppressive government-run economy and a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism. (Full Story)
- Obama and Geithner plan to lay out broad principles for Wall Street regulatory reform aimed at preventing a repeat of the current financial crisis, said an administration official. (Full Story)
- The Democratic-controlled House approved $410 billion legislation that boosted domestic programs, bristled with earmarks and chipped away at policies left behind by the Bush administration. (Full Story)
Day 36: Obama's Speech & A New Commerce Secretary (Feb. 24)
- Obama will tell Americans in his first major speech that "we will rebuild, we will recover" from the worst economic crisis in decades. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face and take responsibility for our future once more," Obama will tell a joint session of Congress according to advance excerpts of his speech. (Full Story)
- Former Washington state governor Gary Locke will be announced as the nominee for the Secretary of U.S. Commerce on Wednesday, according to a White House official. (Full Story)
- Obama sought to strike a delicate balance between hope and reality on Tuesday to reassure Americans mired in economic crisis that they would survive a "day of reckoning." (Full Story)
Day 35: Obama's Economic Summit (Feb. 23)
- Calling for fiscal restraint even while federal spending soars, President Obama pledged to dramatically slash the annual budget deficit and announced $15 billion in Medicaid money to states from his $787 billion economic stimulus package.
- Obama summoned allies, adversaries and outside experts to a White House summit to address the nation's future financial health one week after signing into law the gargantuan stimulus measure designed to stop the country's economic free fall and, ultimately, reverse the recession now months into its second year. By Obama's own account, the new law will add to this fiscal year's deficit, which the administration projects will be $1.5 trillion.
- Gary Locke, a former governor of Washington state, is the "likely nominee'' for U.S. commerce secretary. Locke, a Democrat, is the third nominee for the post. The first two, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Republican Senator Judd Gregg, withdrew their names from contention. (Full Story)
Day 34: Obama to Set Big Goals in First Budget (Feb. 22)
- Obama's budget this week will set out big goals: to rescue the economy from freefall, expand U.S. health care coverage and move within a few years to slash huge deficits. The budget, due out on Thursday, will indicate Obama's timeline for achieving many of the domestic priorities he pushed during the campaign. (Full Story)
Day 33: Obama Begins Tax Cuts (Feb. 21)
- Obama ordered the Treasury to implement tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans, fulfilling a campaign pledge he hopes will help jolt the economy out of recession. Obama will allow tax breaks given to wealthier Americans under his predecessor, George W. Bush, to expire in 2010 as scheduled rather than eliminate them sooner, an administration official said Saturday. (Full Story)
- Your Weekly Address:Obama announces that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will start having an impact as soon as a few weeks from now, in the form of the quickest and broadest tax cut in history. (Watch the video here)
Day 32: Obama's Adviser: Crisis May be Worse than Depression (Feb. 20)
- The global economy may be deteriorating even faster than it did during the Great Depression, said Paul Volcker, a top adviser to Obama. Volcker noted that industrial production around the world was declining even more rapidly than in the United States, which is itself under severe strain. (Full Story)
- The White House is trying to help people who have been "victims of the unforeseen circumstance" with their mortgages, Jared Bernstein, chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden, told CNBC. (Full Story)
Day 30: Obama Unveils $275 Billion Housing Plan (Feb. 18)
- Obama unveiled his much-anticipated plan to fight the housing crisis, pledging up to $275 billion to help stem a wave of foreclosures sweeping the country. (Full Story)
- Obama’s decision to act as his own “car czar” means that in the next few months he faces decisions no American president has made since the invention of the automobile. The most urgent among them: whether two of America’s three surviving domestic carmakers should be forced into bankruptcy, how many more concessions should be extracted from unions that helped propel him into the Oval Office and, perhaps, even what kind of cars will be produced in the United States. (Full Story)
Day 29: Stimulus Signed into Law (Feb. 17)
- Obama signed a $787 billion economic stimulus bill into law as global markets plunged on fears that the recession would deepen despite government action in many countries. (Full Story)
- Financially strapped General Motors and Chrysler raced to finish restructuring plans that must be submitted to the Obama administration by the end of the day as part of efforts to keep America's biggest carmakers afloat. (Full Story)
- Obama’s plan to reduce the flood of home foreclosures will include a mix of government inducements and new pressure on lenders to reduce monthly payments for borrowers at risk of losing their houses, according to people knowledgeable about the administration’s thinking. (Full Story)
- Obama will release his first budget proposal on Feb. 26. The administration will release an outline of the budget for the 2010 fiscal year. A more detailed version will be released later in the year. (Full Story)
Day 28: White House Wants Changes in Exec. Pay Rules (Feb. 16)
- Facing a stricter approach to limiting executive bonuses than it had favored, the Obama administration wants to revise that part of the stimulus package even after it becomes law, said White House officials. (Full Story)