Obama's First 100 Days: What He's Done So Far
The Democratic-controlled Congress Thursday approved budget blueprints embracing President Barack Obama's agenda but leaving many hard choices until later and a government deeply in the red.
With no Republican support, the House and Senate approved slightly different, less expensive versions of Obama's $3.55 trillion budget plan for fiscal 2010, which begins Oct. 1. The differences will be worked out over the next few weeks.
Obama, who took office in January after eight years of the Republican Bush presidency, has said the Democrats' budget is critical to turning around the recession-hit U.S. economy and paving the way for sweeping healthcare, climate change and education reforms he hopes to push through Congress this year.
Obama, traveling in Europe, issued a statement praising the votes as "an important step toward rebuilding our struggling economy." Vice President Joe Biden, who serves as president of the Senate, presided over that chamber's vote.
In the meantime, European nations pledged Friday on the eve of NATO's 60th anniversary summit that they would support America's new Afghan war strategy with more civilian aid and small troop increases. Obama said Europe should not expect the U.S. to shoulder the military burden alone.
NATO leaders have been reluctant to commit significant new military forces to the deadlocked conflict despite Obama's plan to add 21,000 U.S. troops to the force of 38,000 fighting the rising insurgency. The Europeans have focused on increasing humanitarian and development aid.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged after talks with Obama that his nation would send more police trainers and civilian aid.
"We totally endorse and support America's new strategy in Afghanistan," Sarkozy told a joint news conference. France will contribute to the new U.S. approach with development assistance and more training for police, Sarkozy said.
NATO's ability to succeed in Afghanistan will be seen as a crucial test of the alliance's power and relevance.
Keep track of what Obama has been doing since taking office:
Day 73: McCain Blasts Obama's Plan and the G20 Goes On... (Apr. 2)
- Calling it "generational theft," Sen. John McCain blasted the Obama administration's budget proposal on CNBC Thursday as irresponsible. "We're already $10.7 trillion in debt. That's more than all the presidents combined from George Washington to George W. Bush," The Arizona Republican said.(Full Story)
- Leaders from around the globe made headway Thursday on tackling the world's worst financial crisis since the 1930s, with signs of agreements to give more money to the International Monetary Fund, clamp down on tax havens and tighten regulation over freewheeling hedge funds.(Full Story)
Day 72: Obama Plays Down G20 Splits (Apr. 1)
- Obama said there was "enormous consensus" between the world's largest developed and emerging economies on plans to haul the world out of the deepest downturn since the 1930s. In London for the G20 meetings, Obama played down any differences with France and Germany. (Full Story)
- White House said that Obama has accepted an invitation from President Hu Jintao to visit China later this year. Obama and Hu met in London ahead of the G20 economic summit. The White House also announced that Obama was accepting an invitation to visit Moscow this summer. (Full Story)
- Obama's administration remains optimistic that General Motors can restructure without going to bankruptcy court, said a senior administration official. (Full Story)
- Obama strongly supports legislation that would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate cigarettes, the White House said. The bill, poised for a vote in the House Thursday, would authorize the FDA to oversee the multibillion-dollar tobacco industry, including its advertisements and product designs. (Full Story)
Day 71: Obama's Auto Stance May Include Bankruptcy (Mar. 31)
- Obama ordered General Motors and Chrysler to accelerate their survival efforts and brace for possible bankruptcy, saying neither company had done enough to justify the taxpayer money they were seeking. (Full Story)
- Obama's thinking on the crisis facing GM has not changed since Monday, said a senior administration official. "Nothing has changed on this," the official said when asked about a Bloomberg report that the president has determined that a prepackaged bankruptcy is the best way for GM to restructure and become competitive. "This report is not accurate."(Full Story)
- Obama headed to Europe with a hefty agenda for tackling the economic crisis and seeking support for his new Afghanistan strategy on a trip that will test his global leadership. He will shift his focus to international economics and diplomacy after a heavy emphasis on domestic issues.
Day 70: GM, Chrysler Get Ultimatum From Obama on Turnaround (Mar. 30)
- Obama asserted unprecedented government control over the auto industry, rejecting turnaround plans from General Motors and Chrysler and raising the prospect of controlled bankruptcy for either ailing auto giant. (Full Story)
Day 68: Obama Announces 3 Treasury Dept. Nominees (Mar. 28)
- Obama announced he would nominate three new people for positions at the Treasury Department. The president will nominate Helen Elizabeth Garrett as assistant secretary for tax policy, Michael S. Barr as assistant secretary for financial institutions and George W. Madison as general counsel.(Full Story)
- Obama addresses the people of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota as they face down disastrous flooding. He speaks of what the government is doing, but also stresses that times of crisis like this are reminders of the need and opportunity Americans have to keep their dedication to service. (Watch the video here)
Day 67: Overhaul of Financial Markets Facing a Bumpy Road (Mar. 27)
- Obama will make his debut as president on the world stage next week with calls for global economies to use government spending to jumpstart growth and work on a reshaping of the chaotic financial system. (Full Story)
- The Obama administration's proposed overhaul of US financial market regulations may mark a turning point for the economy, but a long political struggle lies ahead. In congressional hearing rooms, in Capitol hallways where Wall Street lobbyists ply their trade, at global summits, and among ordinary Americans, basic questions will have to be answered about what kind of economy the U.S. wants. (Full Story)
- The U.S. government imposed the first increase in mileage standards for passenger cars and boosted the floor for sport utilities and pickups beginning with model year 2011 vehicles. The regulation is an abbreviated version of the initiative launched by Congress and the Bush administration in 2007 to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil and cut tailpipe emissions. (Full Story)
- Obama will announce the next steps to help GM and Chrysler Monday, the White House said, amid signs of progress for GM in talks aimed at slashing its debt and cutting costs in response to slack demand.(Full Story)
Day 66: US Planning Expansion Of Financial Market Oversight (Mar. 26)
- Geithner told lawmakers that the changes are needed to fix the flaws exposed by the current financial crisis, the worst to hit the country in seven decades. The current system failed in basic, fundamental ways and has proven to be too unstable and fragile, he said. (Full Story)
Obama is holding a town hall meeting—online. Obama is taking questions in the East Room from the general public. The questions are submitted via the Internet and in person, as part of a political strategy to engage Americans directly.
Day 65: Geithner: Economic Deterioration Starting to Slow (Mar. 25)
- A panel led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker will study options for U.S. tax reform and report back to Obama by Dec. 4, said the White House budget director. (Full Story)
- Geithner said he will soon outline proposals for new, tougher requirements on major financial firms to protect the financial system and new rules to prevent financial fraud and abuse against consumers and investors. (Full Story)
- The pace of economic deterioration has started to slow down in some areas, Geithner told CNBC. “That’s promising but it’s going to take some time to work through,” he said in a taped interview. “The government is putting enough force on the economy as a whole and into the financial system so that we bring recovery back as soon as possible.” (Full Story)
- The U.S. dollar will be the global reserve currency for a "long, long time,'' said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, reiterating the Obama administration's confidence in the currency. (Full Story)
Day 64: Obama Sees 'Signs of Progress' on Crisis (Mar. 24)
- Obama said he hopes "it doesn't take too long to convince Congress" to approve new authority to oversee big, tottering financial firms. The administration is pushing the idea of an overarching regulator, such as the Federal Reserve, to have the ability to take over nonbank financial entities whose failure could topple the entire banking system. (Full Story)
- Obama will meet with about a dozen top bank chief executives on Friday, including executives from JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, according to sources. (Full Story)
- Obama said he was seeing signs of progress in his drive to lead the United States out of economic crisis as he sought to reassure recession-weary Americans he was on the right track. "We're moving in the right direction," Obama said at his second prime-time White House news conference since taking office on Jan. 20. (Full Story)
- Obama urged fellow G20 leaders to agree immediate action to boost the global economy at a London summit next month. In an article for a German newspaper, Obama called for a deal on quick fiscal stimulus measures at the April 2 meeting which he said could open the way to a global recovery. (Full Story)
Day 63: Geithner: New Plan Will Help Credit Flow (Mar. 23)
- Geithner told CNBC that the government's highly-anticipated plan to deal with troubled mortgage loans and assets is just the latest effort to stem the financial crisis. (Full Story)
- The Treasury revealed details of a highly-anticipated plan to set up public-private investment funds that will buy up to $1 trillion in troubled loans and securities at the heart of the financial crisis. Market reaction was positive with stocks—especially those of financial firms—rising around the globe, while the dollar was stable. (Full Story)
Day 62: Economy to Rebound Within a Year? (Mar. 22)
- Obama said the financial system could still implode if a large bank were to fail, and "big problems" could result if the government does not try to lessen the risk. "I think that systemic risks are still out there," Obama said in an interview on the CBS program "60 Minutes." "If we did nothing you could still have some big problems. There are certain institutions that are so big that if they fail, they bring a lot of other financial institutions down with them." (Full Story)
- The Obama administration is "incredibly confident" the U.S. economy will rebound within a year, a top adviser said before a critical week in efforts to flesh out and sell the president's recovery agenda. (Full Story)
- Geithner is set to reveal details on Monday of a plan to set up public-private investment funds that could buy up to $1 trillion in troubled loans and securities at the heart of the financial crisis. (Full Story)
Day 61: Ready to Unveil a Toxic Asset Plan (Mar. 21)
- The Treasury Department will roll out a three-part plan next week to try to cleanse the financial system of toxic assets that are clogging banks' balance sheets, according to a source familiar with the plan. (Full Story)
- Obama vowed to stick to the big-ticket items in his budget proposal but acknowledged that dollar amounts would "undoubtedly change" as Congress prepared to take up his record spending plan. (Full Story)
- Obama stepped up his weeklong defense of much-criticized Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, saying he would not accept his resignation even if it was tendered. Obama said in an interview with CBS television network's "60 Minutes" that if Geithner tried to quit, he would tell him, "Sorry buddy, you've still got the job." (Full Story)
- The Obama administration may unveil new details of its anxiously awaited financial stability as early as Monday, shedding light on how it plans to deal with the thorny problem of making a market in the toxic assets that have plagued the balance sheets of big financial firms. (Full Story)
- The President reflects on lessons from his time spent outside Washington recently, which only reinforced the four core principles in his his budget.(Watch the video here)
Day 60: Reaching Out to Iran & a "Tonight Show" Appearance (Mar. 20)
- Obama sent Iran an unprecedented videotape message offering a "new beginning" of diplomatic engagement after decades of U.S. hostility to the Islamic republic.
- Obama was somber and light-hearted in an unusual appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," moving deftly from the economic crisis to the April arrival of a "First Dog" in the White House. (Full Story)
Day 59: Schwarzenegger Helps Obama (Mar. 19)
- Obama is playing a bit of divide-and-conquer this week, pitting his Republican critics in Washington against GOP governors and mayors eager for the federal money that his hard-fought stimulus plan will bring. (Full Story)
Day 58: Obama Officials Sought to Keep AIG Bonuses (Mar. 18)
- Sen. Christopher Dodd said that Obama administration officials asked him to add language to last month's federal stimulus bill to make sure the controversial AIG bonuses remained in place. Dodd told CNN that Obama officials wanted the language added to an amendment limiting bonuses that could be paid by companies receiving federal bailout money. (Full Story)
- In a new Web video, Obama is asked Americans to help him pass his $3.6 trillion budget. "I'm asking you to head outside this Saturday to knock on some doors, talk to some neighbors, and let them know how important this budget is to our future," he said in the video. (Full Story)
Day 57: Strict Limits on AIG? (Mar. 17)
- The Obama administration says it's trying to put strict limits on the next $30 billion installment in taxpayers' money for insurance giant AIG amid questions about whether it responded fiercely enough to executive bonus payments. (Full Story)
- Obama is also meeting on St. Patrick's Day at the White House with Irish political leaders intent on maintaining peace despite dissidents' violence in Northern Ireland. (Full Story)
Day 56: Obama Gives Boost To Small Businesses and attacks AIG Bonuses (Mar. 16)
- Obama said all legal measures will be taken to stop AIG execs from receiving bonuses that come from government money lent to the insurance giant.
- Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced a broad package that includes reduced small-business lending fees and an increase on the guarantee to some Small Business Administration loans. (Full Story)
- A day earlier, the president's advisers said in television interviews that they remained confident in the nation's economic fundamentals, at times adopting upbeat rhetoric the president once mocked.
- And the White House said that during his trip to California this week, Obama will appear on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. The appearance is scheduled for Thursday. He will talk about the economy.
Day 53: Obama Speaks To Business Roundtable about Banks (Mar. 15)
- Obama said the true status of bank balance sheets was not known, and he would act decisively to make sure major banks have enough money to operate.
- Obama said some of the country's largest banks are holding toxic assets, which are dragging down balance sheets and contributing to the slowdown in lending.
- "The weakened condition of some of our largest banks has implications for the entire system," he told corporate business leaders at the Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C.
- "Critical to that solution is an honest and forthright assessment of the true status of bank balance sheets, something that we've not yet had," he told the group of corporate business leaders.
- In this week's address, Obama makes key announcements regarding the safety of our nation's food. (Watch the Video Here)
Day 52: Geithner: Spending Hikes are Short-Term (Mar. 12)
- Obama's ambitious new budget faced bipartisan skepticism as key senators questioned the administration's long-term budget outlook and the deficits it envisions rising in the middle of the next decade. 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. (Full Story)
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)