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Morning Bulletin – Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009

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

4823588Amidst the swirl of economic stimulus, private-sector bailouts, a rescue plan for homeowners and a tanking stock market, President Obama – who is riding high in the polls despite the gloom – is set to lay out his long-term vision tonight at 9pm ET in a 50-minute address to a joint session of Congress.

"Obama aides say he'll use the prime-time setting — his most high-profile platform since being sworn in last month — to delve into a broader range of issues that he has not yet devoted significant attention to because of the focus on the stimulus package," reports Politico's Jonathan Martin.
"He'll key in on education, health care, energy and reducing the budget deficit — and attempt to tie them together into a larger discussion about his vision for the economic growth of the country. ... To 'highlight the issues that Americans are facing,' Obama will cite the personal challenges of some in the country he's come across or heard from, a White House official said.

"What he won't do is get deep down in the weeds, à la President Bill Clinton on school uniforms or President George W. Bush on steroids in baseball, to name only two references from past State of the Unions. As has happened repeatedly in his brief political career, the new president will be forced to rely on his oratorical skills in what is his first State of the Union-style address. His task is considerable."

"Although Obama is too new in office to be delivering a State of the Union address, his speech will have all the same trappings. It comes two days before he delivers a budget blueprint to Congress. Unlike that detail-driven document, his address will be broad, spelling out what he wants and how he will do it," writes the Associated Press' Ben Feller.

"The economy, in its worst tailspin in decades, will dominate. Obama will touch on foreign policy, but that will largely be left for other upcoming speeches. This will not be a rollout of one policy initiative after another. Obama will make clear that the trillion-dollar-plus deficit is one he 'inherited.' In other words, he wants to remind people that President George W. Bush and the previous Congress left him a big hole, forcing him to pursue the costly stimulus package. On Congress' turf, the president will spell out how he thinks all the economic pieces are entwined. So he will push for movement on ensuring health coverage for all Americans. He will seek to expand educational opportunities, and diversify the country's energy sources, and contain sacred entitlements like Social Security, and halve the soaring budget deficit in four years."

"President Obama is billing his speech Tuesday night as 'an address to Congress,' but it will sound much like a typical State of the Union. He's following a television-driven tradition in which new presidents use their first speech in the ornate House chamber to rally support for their ideas," adds USA Today's David Jackson.

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
"Obama joins predecessors Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as presidents who spoke before Congress in February. Those presidents also focused their speeches on the economy, with a list of new proposals. ... Obama, the 44th president, will be the 12th chief executive to speak in person to Congress within two months of inauguration — all but two presidents since World War II."
(AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Following the president's remarks, Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., will deliver the Republican response. "Jindal, 37, was still working last night on the 10-minute speech. Aides said he is writing it himself, although he has received input from party leaders. The fast-talking governor plans to rehearse with a teleprompter today before giving the address live from the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge," writes the Washington Post's Philip Rucker.

"This is the grandest opportunity of Jindal's young political life ... But in his star moment, Jindal is being anything but cautious. Leading up to his speech, Jindal has voiced withering criticism of Obama's $787 billion economic recovery package, becoming the most prominent of a handful of Republican governors from Southern states to say they will reject some federal funds in the stimulus plan. ... The son of Indian immigrants, Jindal is the first nonwhite governor of Louisiana since Reconstruction and offers the GOP an attractive rival to Obama."

(AP)
OBAMA'S CABINET: CBS News has learned that Mr. Obama is "likely" to name former Gov. Gary Locke, D-Wash., as his Commerce Secretary sometime this week. Locke is the president's third choice for the post – Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., and Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., both withdrew their names for consideration after being nominated.

"Mr. Locke, a two-term governor, former state legislator and onetime county executive, would bring a technocratic, pro-business record to the post," writes the New York Times' Peter Baker.

"His most noted action was a multibillion-dollar incentive package to keep Boeing from taking production of its new jetliner to another state, a hugely significant moment for his state's business reputation. But his alliance with Boeing and big business on labor issues earned him the enmity of unions.

"Mr. Locke pushed for improvements in education, but amid a recession-driven budget shortfall he suspended plans to hire more teachers and raise their pay, alienating other supporters. He raised gasoline taxes to improve transportation and led multiple trade missions that increased business with Asia and Mexico.

"Mr. Locke had been mentioned as a possible United States trade representative, but he might have been too pro-trade for the unions. Still, as some in the Obama administration pointed out, the unions should be happier with Mr. Locke at the Commerce Department than they would have been with Mr. Gregg. Moreover, organizations representing minority groups may be happier with him overseeing the Census Bureau, given complaints about undercounting."

"The choice of Locke for commerce secretary would continue a pair of themes that have emerged as Obama has assembled his Cabinet: diversity and reaching out to former rivals," adds the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza.

"Locke was the first, and remains the only, Chinese American to be elected governor of a state, and he would become the third Asian American in Obama's Cabinet, joining Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki and Energy Secretary Steven Chu. He was also an early supporter of then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) in the Democratic presidential race, serving as a co-chairman of her effort in his state.

"Obama crushed Clinton in Washington's Democratic caucuses, and Locke shifted his support to the senator from Illinois after Clinton ended her bid in June. After several high-profile misfires emerged in the Cabinet selection process, Locke is regarded as a safe choice by senior officials in the Obama administration given his long history in public life, his strait-laced reputation and his bipartisan governing credentials. His steady -- and generally popular -- tenure as governor of Washington was the biggest factor in his selection, according to a source familiar with the administration's thinking."

(AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
In other cabinet news, "California congresswoman Hilda Solis is expected to win final approval as labor secretary this week, but not before the full Senate takes a test vote on her nomination," reports the Associated Press' Sam Hananel.

"Solis needs to win at least 60 votes Tuesday if the Senate votes, as scheduled, on a move to end debate and send her nomination to a final confirmation vote."

ALSO TODAY: President Obama will meet with embattled Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso at 10:30am ET.

(AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
"Aso, of late, has faced single-digit approval ratings, appeals from his own party to resign and the worst Japanese recession in 50 years," reports the Associated Press' Foster Klug. "His administration reached a low point last week when his finance minister stepped down after appearing to be drunk during a world finance ministers' meeting."

The president will also hold a closed meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates at 4:30pm ET.

Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and the crew of US Airways Flight 1549 will tell their story to a House Transportation Subcommittee at 10am ET.

BUDGET
LA Times' Christi Parsons and Maura Reynolds, "Obama plans a more transparent budget"

Wall Street Journal's Naftali Bendavid, "Democrats Unveil Spending Bill for Rest of Fiscal '09"

NY Times' Jackie Calmes, "With Spending Set, at Least for Now, the Knives Come Out"

ECONOMIC STIMULUS
McClatchy Newspapers' David Lightman, "Big stimulus bill sparks long-term fiscal fears"

FINANCIAL BAILOUT
NY Times' Edmund L. Andrews, Andrew Ross Sorkin and Mary Williams Walsh, "U.S. Is Pressed to Add Billions to Bailouts"

LA Times' Jim Puzzanghera and E. Scott Reckard, "U.S. attaches strings to bank bailout funds"

Washington Post's Binyamin Applebaum and David Cho, "U.S. Clears Path to Bank Takeovers"


AUTOMAKER BAILOUT
Detroit Free Press' Justin Hyde, "Auto loan adviser Rattner not a car czar, but insider knows D.C."

Detroit Free Press' Tim Higgins and Justin Hyde, "GM explores various options for bankruptcy"

FOREIGN POLICY
NY Daily News' Richard Sisk, "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to pledge $900M in aid to Gaza on 1st visit to Mideast"

Washington Post's Glenn Kessler, "Veteran Mideast Envoy Ross Named to Advise Clinton on Iran Strategy"

SEN. ROLAND BURRIS
Chicago Tribune's John Chase, "Sen. Roland Burris sticking to his story about Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointment"

Politico's Manu Raju, "Did Senate leaders blow it on Burris?"

MINNESOTA SENATE RECOUNT
St. Paul Pioneer Press's Rachel E. Stassen-Berger, "Still unanswered: How many tossed votes will be tallied? Coleman plans to wrap up this week - then it's Franken's turn"

Minneapolis Star Tribune's Kevin Duchschere and Pat Doyle, "More absentee ballots ruled in and out"

ALSO:
NY Times' Peter Baker, "Helicopter Plan Is Excessive, Obama and McCain Agree"

Associated Press' Liz Sidoti, "Obama uses humor at White House summit"

Associated Press' Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, "Health care costs to top $8,000 per person"

Boston Globe's Peter S. Canellos, "Can Obama deliver healthcare overhaul for Kennedy?"

Chicago Tribune's Andrew Zajac, "Questions raised about Rahm Emanuel's housing arrangement in D.C."

Anchorage Daily News' Lisa Demer, "Governor's staff defends her expenses -- $805,312: Compared to Murkowski, and Knowles, Palin is called "frugal"; $18,000 in per diem while in Wasilla."

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