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Morning Bulletin – Friday, March 13, 2009

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

(AP)
At Noon ET, President Obama will receive an update on the economy and the progress of his economic stimulus program from the chairman of his economic recovery advisory board, Paul Volcker. Following their meeting, the president is expected to announce new regulations regarding federal spending.

Also this morning, Mr. Obama's chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, talks about the economy at the Brookings Institution at 10:30am ET.

Today's events come on the heels of the president's defense that his agenda is too massive at a time of economic crisis.

"'I'm not choosing to address these additional challenges just because I feel like it or because I'm a glutton for punishment,' he told a gathering of corporate leaders. 'I'm doing so because they're fundamental to our economic growth and ensuring that we don't have more crises like this in the future. You see, we cannot go back to endless cycles of bubble and bust,'" reports the New York Times' Peter Baker.

"The speech to the Business Roundtable was aimed at countering unease in Washington over the scale of the president's agenda, given the country's deep and unrelenting economic travails.

"The investor Warren E. Buffett, a strong Obama supporter, captured the sentiment this week when he said 'job 1 is to win the war, the economic war; job 2 is to win the economic war, and job 3.'

"Concern is growing in some quarters that the president's initiatives have not been enough to turn the economy around. Some economists previously cited by the White House now predict that Mr. Obama's $787 billion stimulus package will create or save only 2.5 million jobs, instead of the 3.5 million he promised.

"Even that would fall short of the 4.4 million jobs lost since the recession began. Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, left the door open to a second stimulus package. But Mr. Obama has not been content to deal just with the immediate crisis as he works to get stimulus money out the door, stabilize fragile banks and ease the housing crisis.

"He has also begun efforts to rewrite the tax code to shift the burden to the rich; to bring down health costs and expand access to insurance; and to increase alternative energy supplies while imposing a market-based cap on pollution blamed for climate change."

(CBS)
The Associated Press' Jim Kuhnhenn points out that part of the president's job now is to be the "nation's confidence-builder."

"President Barack Obama is embracing a mantle of confidence-builder in chief," Kuhnhenn writes. "Whether he is meeting with his own economic advisers or worried business leaders, his message is meant to be calm and reassuring — even in the wake of more bad economic news. Obama will have another opportunity to assert his optimism after he meets Friday with Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman who now guides the president's economic recovery advisory board."

"Speaking to a gathering of the nation's CEOs on Thursday, Obama defended his plans for pulling the economy out of a downward spiral, saying that his long-term view gives him reason to maintain optimism despite an uptick in unemployment and falling economic indicators. 'I've never bought into these Malthusian, woe, Chicken Little, the earth is falling. I tend to be pretty optimistic,' said Obama, once a long-shot candidate for the White House. 'I wouldn't be here if I weren't pretty optimistic.'

"The president boldly declared that the national crisis is 'not as bad as we think' and that he has seen public opinion seesaw without logic. 'A smidgen of good news and suddenly everything is doing great. A little bit of bad news and 'Ooohh, we're down on the dumps,'' he said. 'And I am obviously an object of this constantly varying assessment.'"

Meantime, two pollsters – one Democrat, one "independent" – argue in today's Wall Street Journal that "Obama's Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth."

"It is simply wrong for commentators to continue to focus on President Barack Obama's high levels of popularity, and to conclude that these are indicative of high levels of public confidence in the work of his administration," write pollsters Douglas E. Schoen and Scott Rasmussen before citing recent polls done by Rasmussen, Gallup and Wall Street Journal/NBC.

"Indeed, a detailed look at recent survey data shows that the opposite is most likely true. The American people are coming to express increasingly significant doubts about his initiatives, and most likely support a different agenda and different policies from those that the Obama administration has advanced. Polling data show that Mr. Obama's approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001."

ALSO TODAY: Vice President Joe Biden swore in Labor Secretary Hilda Solis at 9am ET. Later, he announces Amtrak funding as part of the economic stimulus plan at Washington, D.C.'s Union Station.

**Washington Unplugged at 2 p.m. ET on CBSNews.com: 14-year-old author and conservative commentator Jonathan Krohn; Brookings Institution's Director of Policy Education Russ Whitehurst and Politico Senior Political Reporter Jonathan Martin join anchor Bob Schieffer to discuss the president's education policy; and Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens dissects the "special" relationship between the United States and Britain.

BUDGET / ECONOMY

Washington Post's Ben Pershing, "No Second Stimulus Bill Is Coming Soon, Pelosi Says"

Associated Press' Jim Kuhnhenn, "Obama takes on role of nation's confidence-builder"

NY Times' Peter Baker, "Obama Defends Agenda as More Than Recession"

CBSNews.com's Political Hotsheet, "Obama Tells Business Leaders He Supports Free Markets"

FINANCIAL BAILOUT

McClatchy Newspapers' Kevin G. Hall, "Obama's econ failure: Still no plan to fix the banks"

Wall Street Journal's Susanne Craig, "Cuomo, Frank Seek to Limit Executive Pay, Performance"

Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman, "Obama Makes Overtures for Cooperation of CEOs"

REPUBLICAN PARTY

NY Times' Adam Nagourney, "In Interview, Republican Chairman Strays From the Party Line on Abortion"

Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Perry Bacon Jr., "RNC Chair's Remarks on Abortion Draw Criticism"

CBSNews.com Political Hotsheet, "GOP Chair Steele Again Under Fire"

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

Politico's Jonathan Martin, "Lobbyist ban limits Obama's options"

Washington Times' Gary Emerling and Christina Bellantoni, "Obama appointee on leave after FBI raid"

Wall Street Journal's Michael M. Phillips, "Cohen Drops Bid for Treasury Post"

Washington Post's Carrie Johnson, "How Obama Will Handle U.S. Attorney Posts Remains Unclear"

FOREIGN POLICY / TRADE

Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman and Mark Champion, "European Leaders Push Back on Obama's Calls for Aid"

USA Today's Rick Jervis, "Feds bolster agents on border with Mexico"

Associated Press' Anne Gearan and Anne Flaherty, "Officials: Obama close to stating new Afghan goals"

Wall Street Journal's Jay Solomon, "Obama Team Plots Opening of Iran Ties"

Associated Press' Desmond Butler, "Turkish trip intensifies dilemma for Obama"

MINNESOTA SENATE RECOUNT

CBSNews.com's Brian Montopoli, "Will The Franken-Coleman Battle Ever End?"

Minneapolis Star Tribune's Pat Doyle, "Sudden sprint to finish line"

FUTURE RACES

2010 LA Senate: Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers, "TSA Reviewing Senator's Behavior at Dulles Terminal"

2010 NV Senate: CQ Politics' Kathleen Hunter, "For Senate Leader, Political Strategy is a Sweet Science"

2010 PA Senate: Harrisburg Patriot-News' Laura Vescey, "Luksik prepares to do battle for Specter's seat"

2012 President: Associated Press' Beth Fouhy, "SC Gov. Sanford set to reject stimulus millions"

ALSO:

NY Times' Robert Pear, "Obama Is on the Spot as Rulings Aid Gay Partners"

CBSNews.com Political Hotsheet, "Michelle Obama Visits With Soldiers And Their Families"

The Daily Beast's Sally Denton profiles Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., "The Man Obama Double-Crossed"

LA Times' Richard Simon and E. Scott Reckard, "Maxine Waters under scrutiny for bank ties"

Washington Post's Eli Saslow, "White House Ethics? 'Mr. No' Knows"

Politico's Patrick Gavin, "Group puts Ayers back in spotlight"

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