The economy will determine whether Barack Obama achieves what few presidents have: a far-reaching change in American politics that might even earn its own title and legacy.
Will there be an Obama version of the New Deal, the Great Society or the Reagan Revolution?
Afghanistan, North Korea and other foreign hot spots certainly will test Obama. But the deeply troubled economy is his signature challenge and the focus of his greatest efforts, attention and gambles in his first 100 days in office.
Of course 100 days is just the start, too little time to determine the results (let alone the wisdom) of his decisions. But it's enough time to discern the path Obama has chosen, the overarching philosophy that will shape his administration and history's eventual judgment of it.
In a way, Obama is reversing the famous dictum of President Ronald Reagan, who said government is the problem, not the solution.
Confronting the worst economic crisis in more than a half-century, Obama is dramatically increasing the government's role in overseeing banks, helping homeowners avoid foreclosure and even determining who runs General Motors or merges with Chrysler. Pouring billions of dollars into the efforts, he is stoking a huge federal deficit that could haunt him, and the nation, if it does not recede sharply in the next few years.
In the meantime, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told representatives from 16 major world economies Monday that the United States is moving quickly to address global warming.
At an international forum on energy and climate change organized by President Barack Obama, Clinton said the U.S. no longer doubts the urgency or magnitude of the problem.
"The United States is fully engaged and ready to lead and determined to make up for lost time both at home and abroad," Clinton said at the start of the two-day meeting. "The United States is no longer absent without leave."
Additionally, The outbreak of a flu virus that has led to a U.S. public health emergency highlights the need for a strong government commitment to scientific research, President Barack Obama said Monday. Obama promised a major investment in research and development for scientific innovation, saying the United States has fallen behind others.
"I believe it is not in our character, American character, to follow—but to lead. And it is time for us to lead once again. I am here today to set this goal: we will devote more than 3 percent of our GDP to research and development," Obama said in a speech at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences.
Obama said that U.S. cases of swine flu were "not a cause for alarm" but the administration was monitoring them closely.
Keep track of what Obama has been doing since taking office:
Day 97: White House to Detail Government Response to Swine Flu (Apr. 26)
Vice President Joe Biden said he worries about his son who is serving in Iraq, but tries to not look at the ongoing war solely as a father. Obama called Biden "very valuable" during a profile that aired on CBS News' "60 Minutes." "You know, Joe's not afraid to tell me what he thinks," Obama said. "And that's exactly what I need, and exactly what I want."
Day 96: Obama Asks for Ideas on Curbing Federal Spending (Apr. 25)
Day 95: Obama Bipartisanship Push has Mixed Success (Apr. 24)
Day 94: Credit Card Execs: Fed Rules Will Protect Consumers (Apr. 23)
Day 93: Crisis Unprecedented in Modern Times: Geithner (Apr. 22)
Day 92: Obama Meets Jordan's King Abdullah (Apr. 21)
Day 91: US May Not Need More TARP Funds to Shore Up Banks (Apr. 20)
Day 90: Obama Gets Friendly With Neighbors (Apr. 19)
Day 89: Obama Pledges to Cut Dozens of Wasteful Programs (Apr. 18)
Day 88: White House To Meet with Credit Card Execs. (Apr. 17)
Day 87: Results of Stress Tests To Start Emerging (Apr. 16)
Day 86: Tax Day: President Vows to Simplify US Tax Code (Apr. 15)
Day 85: Economy Isn't 'Out of the Woods' (Apr. 14)
Day 84: Allison to Head TARP, Obama Eases Travel Limit to Cuba (Apr. 13)
Day 83: Obamas Celebrate Easter (Apr. 12)
Day 82: (Apr. 11)
Day 80: Feds to Buy 17,600 Fuel-Efficient Cars (Apr. 9)
Day 79: Obama Returns Home (Apr. 8)
Day 78: Obama Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq (Apr. 7)
Day 77: Obama Visits Turkey (Apr. 6)
Day 76: EU and US Join Forces (Apr. 5)
Day 75: Financial Industry Paid Millions to Obama Aide (Apr. 4)
Day 74: Congress Approves Budget Plans (Apr. 3)
Day 73: McCain Blasts Obama's Plan and the G20 Goes On... (Apr. 2)
Day 72: Obama Plays Down G20 Splits (Apr. 1)
Day 71: Obama's Auto Stance May Include Bankruptcy (Mar. 31)
Day 70: GM, Chrysler Get Ultimatum From Obama on Turnaround (Mar. 30)
Day 68: Obama Announces 3 Treasury Dept. Nominees (Mar. 28)
Day 67: Overhaul of Financial Markets Facing a Bumpy Road (Mar. 27)
Day 66: US Planning Expansion Of Financial Market Oversight (Mar. 26)
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)
Day 64: Obama Sees 'Signs of Progress' on Crisis (Mar. 24)
Day 63: Geithner: New Plan Will Help Credit Flow (Mar. 23)
Day 62: Economy to Rebound Within a Year? (Mar. 22)
Day 61: Ready to Unveil a Toxic Asset Plan (Mar. 21)
Day 60: Reaching Out to Iran & a "Tonight Show" Appearance (Mar. 20)
Day 59: Schwarzenegger Helps Obama (Mar. 19)
Day 58: Obama Officials Sought to Keep AIG Bonuses (Mar. 18)
Day 57: Strict Limits on AIG? (Mar. 17)
Day 56: Obama Gives Boost To Small Businesses and attacks AIG Bonuses (Mar. 16)
Day 53: Obama Speaks To Business Roundtable about Banks (Mar. 15)
Day 52: Geithner: Spending Hikes are Short-Term (Mar. 12)
Day 51: Obama Targets 'Earmarks' in New Spending Bill (Mar. 11)
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)
Day 48: More Appointed to Treasury Department (Mar. 8)
Day 47: Discovering Opportunity in the Crisis (Mar. 7)
Day 46: Obama Touts Economic Gains (Mar. 6)
Day 45: Obama Team Working 'Around the Clock' (Mar. 5)
Day 44: New Housing Plan Launched (Mar. 4)
Day 43: Stimulus Package Looking Hopeful? (Mar. 3)
Day 42: Health Reform Positions Nominated (Mar. 2)
Day 40: Big Budget Fight Ahead (Feb. 28)
Day 39: Obama's Tax Breaks Applauded (Feb. 27)
Day 38: Additional $250 Billion Needed to Help Financial System? (Feb. 26)
Day 37: Obama Lays Out Reform Plans, House Approves $410 Billion Legislation (Feb. 25)
Day 36: Obama's Speech & A New Commerce Secretary (Feb. 24)
Day 35: Obama's Economic Summit (Feb. 23)
Day 34: Obama to Set Big Goals in First Budget (Feb. 22)
Day 33: Obama Begins Tax Cuts (Feb. 21)
Day 32: Obama's Adviser: Crisis May be Worse than Depression (Feb. 20)
Day 30: Obama Unveils $275 Billion Housing Plan (Feb. 18)
Day 29: Stimulus Signed into Law (Feb. 17)
Day 28: White House Wants Changes in Exec. Pay Rules (Feb. 16)
Day 26: Your Weekly Address (Feb. 14)
Day 25: House Approves Stimulus Package (Feb. 13)
Day 24: Key Stimulus Dispute Settled...Sen. Gregg Withdraws (Feb. 12)
Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire abruptly withdrew his nomination as commerce secretary, citing "irresolvable conflicts" with Obama's handling of the economic stimulus and 2010 census. (Full Story)
Day 23: Stimulus Pact Reached (Feb. 11)
Day 22: A New Bank Bailout Plan (Feb. 10)
Day 21: Stimulus Bill Passes Crucial Senate Test (Feb. 9)
Day 20: Stimulus Package This Week? (Feb. 8)
Day 19: Obama Demands Speed on Stimulus (Feb. 7)
Day 18: Strengthening the Economic Stimulus Plan (Feb. 6)
Day 17: Stimulus Bill Debate Continues (Feb. 5)
Day 16: Obama Imposes New Pay Rule (Feb. 4)
Day 15: Withdrawals, Withdrawals... But the Show Goes On (Feb. 3)
Day 14: Obama Targets CEO Pay (Feb. 2)
Day 13: Obama's Bill 'Wastes a Ton of Money': Sen. Kyl (Feb. 1)
Day 12: Your Weekly Address (Jan. 31)
Day 11: Obama Administration Meets with Wall Street Execs. (Jan. 30)
Day 10: Obama: Wall Street Bonuses are 'Outrageous' (Jan. 29)
Day 9: Stimulus Package Passes Vote in House (Jan. 28)
Russia has halted a plan to retaliate against a proposed U.S. missile defense shield by stationing its own missiles near Europe's borders. The suspension of plans, if confirmed, would show Russia is extending an olive branch to Obama after rocky relations under his predecessor. (Full Story)
Day 8: The Stimulus Package Plan Moves Forward (Jan. 27)
Day 7: Obama's New Climate Policies (Jan. 26)
Day 5: Your Weekly Address (Jan. 24)
Day 4: Stimulus Package by President's Day? (Jan. 23)
Auto industry supporters in Congress asked Obama to support another $25 billion in federal loans to help the industry make more fuel efficient cars, seeking over $4 billion in grants and loan guarantees. The White House said Obama and his advisers will evaluate the needs of automakers after reviewing their viability plans in mid-February. (Full Story)
Day 3: House Considers Obama’s Plan (Jan. 22)
Day 2: Back to Business (Jan. 21)
Day 1: Inauguration Day (Jan. 20)