Morning Bulletin – Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A roundup of news, schedules, and key stories from CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris:

(CBS)
President Obama will deliver remarks to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on education reform at 9:45am ET.

However, as the Associated Press' Philip Elliot reports, there will be no new legislation revealed during his speech. "Obama plans to call on Americans to educate themselves as well as their children during his appearance Tuesday at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It is his first major speech devoted solely to education since taking office, but officials say he plans neither to detail any requirements to achieve his goals nor to change President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind program.

"Instead, a senior administration official said, Obama would speak to the importance of increasing the rigor of the standards in place and challenge states to adopt world-class standards rather than a specific standard. The official would speak only anonymously to preview the president's midmorning speech."

"The White House plan also includes new incentives for states to boost quality in their preschool programs, to raise standards for student achievement and to reduce the high school drop-out rate," reports the Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler.

"And the president is fleshing out his plan to increase financial aid for college students, senior administration officials said. In a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the president will also call on Americans to take responsibility for their children's education and their own, the officials said. The speech will build on comments made during his address to Congress, where Mr. Obama dramatically declared that those who drop out of school are failing not just themselves, but their country."

Politico's Jonathan Martin adds that Mr. Obama is expected to target teachers' unions in his speech today, most likely paving a bumpy road ahead for his relationship with the unions.

"After weeks of pleasing Democrats by overturning policies set by the previous administration, President Barack Obama Tuesday will for the first time confront a powerful constituency in his own party: teachers' unions. Obama will propose spending additional money to reward effective teachers in up to 150 additional school districts, fulfilling a campaign promise that once earned him boos from members of the National Education Association. ...

"Teachers' unions say merit pay causes teachers to compete against each other, rather than collaborate, and is unfair to those who work in disadvantaged areas where it can be harder to boost student performance. But polls show the policy is overwhelmingly supported by the public, and it offers Obama a chance both to burnish his reformer credentials, and point to a split from party orthodoxy."

CARD-CHECK: Speaking of unions, "The battle over the 'Employee Free Choice Act' -- expected to be introduced Tuesday -- is seen as a power struggle among labor unions and businesses, as well as a test of whether moderate Democrats and Republicans will push back on Democratic congressional leaders and the Obama administration," report the Wall Street Journal's Melanie Trottman and Brody Mullins.

"At least six Senators who have voted to move forward with the so-called card-check proposal, including one Republican, now say they are opposed or not sure -- an indication that Senate Democratic leaders are short of the 60 votes they need for approval. The legislation is divisive and distracting, said Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln in an interview Monday. The Democratic lawmaker, who was previously seen as a supporter, said the Senate should focus on creating jobs and improving the U.S. economy. ...

"The legislation, she said, would be 'divisive and we don't need that right now. We need to focus on the things that are more important.' Sen. Lincoln is one of several moderate Democrats expressing doubts about the Employee Free Choice Act. The bill would allow unions to organize workers without a secret ballot, giving employees the power to organize by simply signing cards agreeing to join. A second provision would give federal arbitrators power to impose contract terms on companies that fail to reach negotiated agreements with unions. Both provisions are strongly opposed by business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor are among the Democratic lawmakers who have backed off their previous support."

ALSO TODAY: President Obama later meets with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Vice President Biden is in Brussels, Belgium today for meetings with the North Atlantic Council and non-NATO partners.

White House Budget Director Peter Orszag is back on Capitol Hill selling the president's budget blueprint to the Senate Finance and Budget Committees.

LATER THIS WEEK: First Lady Michelle Obama will visit the State Department tomorrow and on Thursday, she'll make her first solo trip outside of D.C. since her husband took office. She's scheduled to tour Fort Bragg in North Carolina where she will "meet with military spouses, and speak to community organizations that provide support to the soldiers and their families," according to the White House.


BUDGET/ECONOMY

Wall Street Journal's Naftali Bendavid and Greg Hitt, "Fight on Bill Augurs Woes for Democrats": "Democrats' difficulty passing what party leaders expected to be a routine spending bill could signal problems ahead enacting President Barack Obama's agenda. The Senate on Tuesday is expected to pass a $410 billion bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, but only after the measure ran into some turbulence. Republicans have used it to score points against so-called earmark spending tucked in by lawmakers, forcing the White House to all but disavow it and exposing tensions between the House and Senate. 'It's been a lot harder than I thought it would be,' said Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa). ...

"The omnibus spending bill's bumpy ride could foreshadow trouble for coming Democratic initiatives, most of which are more complicated and controversial."

(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Washington Post's Shalaigh Murray, "Democrats Stung by Dissenters": "Democratic leaders in Congress did not expect much Republican support as they pressed President Obama's ambitious legislative agenda. But the pushback they are receiving from some of their own has come as an unwelcome surprise.

"As the Senate inches closer to approving a $410 billion spending bill, the internal revolt has served as a warning to party leaders pursuing Obama's far-reaching plans for health-care, energy and education reform. Those goals, spelled out in Obama's 2010 budget blueprint, continue to enjoy broad Democratic support.

"But as the ideas develop into detailed legislation, they will transform from abstract objectives into a tangle of difficult trade-offs. Crop subsidies, the student loan program and Medicare radiology rules are all currently niche concerns, but any one could become the next crisis for party leaders, with the potential to derail a major agenda item. One major proposal, to limit itemized deductions for wealthy taxpayers, has already raised doubts among prominent Democrats in both chambers."

Associated Press' Andrew Taylor, "Lawmakers defend attacks against pet projects"

NY Times' Jackie Calmes and Carl Hulse, "Obama's Budget Faces Test Among Party Barons"

Washington Post's Binyamin Applebaum interviews FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, "Detox for Troubled Assets"

FOREIGN POLICY / TRADE

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Washington Post's Anthony Faiola, "U.S. to Toughen Its Stance on Trade": "Even as world trade takes its steepest drop in 80 years amid the global economic crisis, the administration is preparing to take a harder line with America's trading partners. It will seek new benchmarks before supporting already-written trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea and is suggesting that it will dig in its heels on global trade talks, demanding that other countries make broader concessions first. ...

"The shift underscores the mounting pressures confronting any effort to expand trade during the economic crisis. Even before the global economy went code red late last year, talks aimed at expanding global trade stalled as Western countries warred with emerging giants like China and India over how to further open markets. Those divides appear to be more unbreachable than ever as world leaders move to protect their domestic industries from the ravages of the financial crisis, embracing new trade barriers aimed at imported goods and other measures meant to restrict the flow of capital outside their borders. In the United States, more Americans are blaming cheap imports for job losses at home and congressional leaders pressed successfully to include a 'buy American' provision in the $787 billion stimulus program to give an edge to U.S.-made products."

Associated Press' Constant Brand, "Biden warns of 'deteriorating' Afghan situation"

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

Wall Street Journal's Ron Winslow and Gautam Naik, "Obama Overturns Bush Policy on Stem Cell Research Funding"

NY Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Obama Puts His Own Spin on Mix of Science With Politics"

Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown, "Obama's health principles, translated"

Chicago Tribune's Frank James, "Obama orders review of Bush's signing statements"

Washington Post's Walter Pincus, "GOP Senators Question Intelligence Pick's Ties": "All seven Republican members of the Senate intelligence committee yesterday joined a small chorus of voices on Capitol Hill criticizing the choice of a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia for a senior intelligence position, concerned about his views on Israel and his past relationships with Saudi and Chinese interests. Charles W. Freeman Jr. was picked by Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair to lead the National Intelligence Council. In that position, he will oversee production of national intelligence estimates and shorter assessments on specific issues, tapping experts from among the 16 intelligence agencies. The position does not require Senate confirmation."

Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel and Erika Lovely, "Hayes' clients have business at Interior": "President Barack Obama's nominee to be deputy interior secretary hasn't personally lobbied the department in more than two years, but filings released Monday show that David Hayes continued representing companies with business before it."

MINNESOTA SENATE RECOUNT

(CBS/AP)
Minneapolis Star Tribune's Pat Doyle and Kevin Duchschere, "Smaller vote pool may hurt Coleman"

Time Magazine's Justin Horwith and Andy Mannix, "Coleman and Franken Still Battle, as Minnesota Awaits a Senator"

FUTURE RACES

Politico's Alex Isenstadt, "GOP urges rookies to go for the dough"

2009 NJ Governor: NY Times' David W. Chen, "In a Tough Sell, Corzine Works to Connect"

2009 VA Governor: Newport News Daily Press' Kimball Payne, "Area now a battleground for governor"

2010 CA Senate: Field Poll shows Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., leading in hypothetical matchups with term-limited Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carly Fiorina.

2010 CT Senate: A new Quinnipiac University Poll shows Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., tied with former Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn.

2010 NC Senate: Asheville Citizen-Times' John Boyle, "Spokesman: Shuler will not seek Burr's senate seat"

2010 OK Senate: The Hill's Aaron Blake, "Dr. No leaves constituents guessing about reelection"

2012 President: Boston Globe's Peter S. Canellos, "By careful measure, Romney's prospects raised"

ALSO:

Politico's David Rogers interviews Sen. John McCain, who said about President Obama, "I don't want him to fail."

Wall Street Journal's Jess Bravin, "Ruling Limits Scope of Voting Act"

NY Times' Scott Shane profiles Interior Department inspector general and stimulus policeman Earl Devaney:

Washington Post's Michelle Boorstein, "Obama Raises Profile Of Prayer"

The Hill's Betsy Rothstein, "Dana Perino returns"

Politico's Patrick O'Connor, "Democrats' new villain: Eric Cantor"
  • Steve Chaggaris

    Steve Chaggaris is CBS News' senior political editor.

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