February 19, 2009: Obama Signs the Economic Stimulus Bill into Law and his Canada Visit

President Obama

White House photo 2/18/09 by Pete Souza

Housing plan

On Feb. 18, 2009, President Obama announced his plan to help homeowners and stabilize the housing market. Learn more about how the plan might affect you.

Learn more



In Focus: Stats

  • Rasmussen’s daily polling: Job approval of Barack Obama continues to be high: most recently 60 percent approve and 39 percent disapprove.
    His disapproval numbers have risen, from 29 percent on January 22 and 23, up to a range of 37 percent-39 percent starting February 7. – US News & World Report, 2-19-09


The Headlines…

President Obama arrives in Canada

  • Obama Makes Overtures to Canada’s Leader: President Obama charted a delicate course with Canada on Thursday, using the first foreign trip of his presidency to ease tensions over trade policy, climate change and the war in Afghanistan — all the while basking in his celebrity status in a nation where his approval ratings are so high that a local bakery named a pastry after him. – NYT, 2-19-09
  • APNewsBreak: Black pastors to ask Burris to resign: A group of black ministers who previously supported U.S. Sen. Roland Burris now plan to ask for his resignation, one of the ministers told The Associated Press on Thursday. Many of the city’s influential black pastors supported Burris because of his scandal-free reputation — even though he was appointed by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich after the governor was arrested. – AP, 2-19-09
  • Cheered in Canada, Obama treads lightly: President Barack Obama courted warmer relations with America’s snowy northern neighbor Thursday, declining to ask war-weary Canada to do more in Afghanistan, promising he won’t allow a protectionist creep into U.S. trade policy and talking reassuringly around thorny energy issues. – AP, 2-19-09
  • Obama’s Bipartisanship Is One Sappy Dream: Margaret Carlson: In his long and sometimes snarky campaign, John McCain took to ridiculing Barack Obama and his supporters for imputing messianic qualities to the upstart candidate, mockingly referring to the Democrat as “The One.” New evidence suggests McCain was on to something. In less than a month, Obama has breathed life back into a Republican Party the whole world took for dead…. – Bloomberg, 2-19-09
  • U.S. tells N. Korea to end insults, return to talks: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday told North Korea to stop being provocative and return to talks on ending efforts to build a nuclear arsenal. – AP, 2-19-09
  • Calif. lawmakers send Schwarzenegger budget bills: The California Legislature on Thursday approved a plan to close a $42 billion budget deficit after an epic impasse that involved several all-night sessions, sending Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a package of bills that raises taxes and cuts spending. It was not immediately clear when Schwarzenegger would sign the bills. – AP, 2-19-09
  • Clinton looks to boost US image in Asia: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton moved Wednesday to boost U.S. ties with the world’s most populous Muslim nation and its neighbors, pledging a new American willingness to work with and listen to Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia. – AP, 2-18-09
  • Stimulus Tour Takes Obama to New Blue States: A trend is emerging in President Obama’s out-of-the-gate travel itinerary: Top billing has been given to states that turned from red to blue in the fall. So far this year, Mr. Obama has visited Ohio, Indiana, Florida, Virginia and Colorado, states that usually voted Republican in presidential elections but that went Democratic in November. – NYT, 2-18-09
  • US commander: Troops ‘stalemated’ in Afghanistan: The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan offered a grim view Wednesday of military efforts in southern Afghanistan, warning that 17,000 new troops will take on emboldened Taliban insurgents who have “stalemated” U.S. and allied forces. – AP, 2-18-09
  • Obama throws $75 billion lifeline to homeowners: President Barack Obama threw a $75 billion lifeline to millions of Americans on the brink of foreclosure Wednesday, declaring an urgent need for drastic action — not only to save their homes but to keep the housing crisis “from wreaking even greater havoc” on the broader national economy. – AP, 2-17-09
  • Obama signs stimulus bill, readies homeowner plan: Racing to reverse the country’s economic spiral, President Barack Obama signed the mammoth stimulus package into law Tuesday and readied a new $50 billion foreclosure rescue for legions of Americans who are in danger of losing their homes. – AP, 2-17-09
  • Signing Stimulus, Obama Doesn’t Rule Out More: President Obama has not ruled out a second stimulus package, his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said on Tuesday, just before Mr. Obama signed his $787 billion recovery package into law with a statement that it would “set our economy on a firmer foundation.” – NYT, 2-17-09
  • GOP governors consider turning down stimulus money: A handful of Republican governors are considering turning down some money from the federal stimulus package, a move opponents say puts conservative ideology ahead of the needs of constituents struggling with record foreclosures and soaring unemployment. –
  • How the heck could the census be controversial?: Still more analysts were certain it was a result of the 2010 census and who would have ultimate management responsiblities for it’s conduct. Normally the census is under the auspices of the Commerce Department, but the Obama Administration had signaled the upcoming census would be getting some added attention and oversight from the White House. Mr. Gregg denied the census was any big deal, though it didn’t discourage some from insisting the census was the raison d’etre for Gregg’s withdrawal. Examiner, 2-17-09

President Obama

White House photo 2/18/09 by Pete Souza

Housing plan

On Feb. 18, 2009, President Obama announced his plan to help homeowners and stabilize the housing market. Learn more about how the plan might affect you.

Learn more

President Obama signs the economic recovery bill into law

White House photo 2/17/09 by Pete Souza

A Strong Start

In Denver, CO, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law — a major milestone on the long road back to a sustainable economic future.

Read the President's remarks

President Obama and Sen. Kent Conrad in the Oval Office


Political Quotes

  • Hillary Clinton to reporters at a news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan: “North Korea is not going to get a different relationship with the United States while insulting and refusing dialogue with (South Korea). We are calling on the government of North Korea to refrain from being provocative and unhelpful in a war of words that it has been engaged in because that is not very fruitful. She said that was “in stark contrast to the tyranny and poverty across the border to the North” and commended the “people of South Korea and your leaders for your calm, resolve and determination in the face of provocative and unhelpful statements and actions by the North.”…. “The North should refrain from violating this resolution and also from any and all provocative actions that could harm the six-party talks and aggravate the tensions in the region.” – AP, 2-20-09
  • Bill Clinton “Honoring an old friend given the Lindy Boggs Award, which highlights the year’s Southern woman in politics”: “I want to bring you greetings from my favorite woman in politics who, as you all know, is secretary of state [and] is now in Japan doing the world’s work for America over there. I had a little bite of that apple last year, trying to convince people that women should be in higher executive positions. I learned something very interesting one more time about the process of social change and how the wheels of history grind slow or, as Martin Luther King said, the arc of history bends slowly, but it bends toward justice. Psychologically, we’re sometimes not even aware of how we feel about letting women make decisions that used to be made by men until we actually have to come up against it. I’ll tell you a very interesting thing in the state where Hillary ran best—next to Arkansas: West Virginia. She won the [state primary] election by 40 points, but in the exit polls, people were asked about Hillary and President Obama. ‘Does it bother you to have an African-American president?’ ‘Do you have any reservations about having a female president?’ Fifteen percent of West Virginians admitted that they had some qualms about having an African-American president; 21 percent said they had some qualms about having a female president. That’s in a state where she won by 40 points.” – US News & World Report, 2-19-09
  • Eric Holder U.S. a ‘nation of cowards’ on race, 1st black attorney general says Holder’s speech signals more active Justice Department on civil rights issues: “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” Holder said in a Black History Month speech to hundreds of Justice Department employees. “It is an issue we have never been at ease with, and given our nation’s history this is in some ways understandable,” Holder said. “And yet, if we are to make progress in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.” – Chicago Tribune, 2-19-09

President Obama signs the economic recovery bill into law

  • Barack Obama: Remarks by the President at Signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: “What I am signing is a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments. It is a plan that’s been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending. And it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability…. And we expect you, the American people, to hold us accountable for the results. That is why we have created Recovery.gov – so every American can go online and see how their money is being spent…. Our American story is not — and has never been — about things coming easy. It’s about rising to the moment when the moment is hard, converting crisis into opportunity, and seeing to it that we emerge from whatever trials we face stronger than we were before.” – WH Blog, 2-17-09
  • Joe Biden: Remarks by the Vice President at Signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Last year — last year our economy lost 3 million jobs; 600,000 more just this last month. There are an awful lot of mothers and father who had to walk up those stairs to the bedroom of their children and tell them that, “I’m out of work, honey. We may not be able to stay here. You may not be able to stay in this school. It’s a tough, tough conversation. And many — too many times it’s already occurred in this country. We’re here today — we’re here today to start to turn that around…. Starting today, our administration will be working day and night to provide more aid for the unemployed, create immediate jobs, building our roads and our bridges, make long-term investments in a smarter energy grid, and so much more. And as we turn the economy around, we’ve got to make sure of one more thing. Last time an economic recovery occurred after a deep recession, the middle class got left behind — the middle class got left behind. And that’s why the President has set up a White House Council on the Task Force on the Middle Class, which he’s asking me to chair. – WH Blog, 2-17-09

President Obama


Historians’ and Analysts Comments

  • Gil Troy “It’s Time to Mobilize Obama’s Army for a Values Revolution”: The story of Barack Obama’s brilliant grassroots organizing as a candidate is now campaigning legend. But since Election Day, the “what do we do now” question has vexed Obama’s Army. Two million activists and an email list of thirteen million “slacktivists” constitute a potent political force. If Obama only uses these idealists as an amen corner, he will miss a chance to deliver the change he promised and millions seek. President Obama should mobilize his army of supporters to launch a mass movement fostering collective and individual responsibility….
    “Organizing for America” must be slicker and more profound, better identified as a force calling on Americans to serve their community while transforming all the good will Obama has generated – even after his rough week – into a transformational conversation about how we live our lives and do politics. The times demand more than the brass bands and blue eagles of the 1930s or the house meetings and mass emailings we have seen so far. If President Obama can get millions investing their time, energy and money into fulfilling his vision, with the same enthusiasm they invested into his campaign, his presidency will be monumental, with the occasional hiring lapses and concessions to Congressional pork upstaged by the renewed citizenship covenant he has so far romanticized but not yet designed. – HNN, 2-19-09
  • Julian Zelizer: “Obama places big bets in first month”: “The level of government intervention that we are seeing or at least is proposed is pretty significant and it is taking place in multiple parts of the economy,” said Princeton University historian Julian Zelizer. “The problem is if it doesn’t work, if the economy is worse (and not) better, this could be a big liability. That is the gamble.”… “It took (president George W.) Bush a little while to look like a president, until 9/11. He did not have that gravity until that famous speech with the firefighters,” said Zelizer. – AFP, 2-19-09
  • Gil Troy “The First 100 Days: George Washington Set the Standard for All Future Presidents”: Adds historian Gil Troy in Leading From the Center: “Washington was a muscular moderate, far shrewder than many acknowledged. Emotionally disciplined, philosophically faithful to an enlightened, democratic ’empire’ of reason, Washington passionately advocated political moderation. Acknowledging his own shortcomings as a human being, he tolerated and welcomed others’ views. He realized that others might reasonably reach different conclusions about important issues. Washington’s idea of democratic politics was to seek common ground and blaze a centrist trail.” – U.S. News & World Report, 2-19-09
  • Donald A. Ritchie “Senate not likely to oust Sen. Roland Burris anytime soon”: “It’s a collegial body that doesn’t like to police its members,” said Donald A. Ritchie, the Senate’s associate historian. “It prefers to leave that to the voters and to the courts.” – LAT, 2-19-09
  • Gil Troy “Canada’s best Presidents Relations with the U.S. still depend on how our leaders get along”: The interaction between Pierre Trudeau and Ronald Reagan makes an intriguing case study. At first glance, they seemed bound to clash. “There’s a great picture,” says Gil Troy, a history professor at McGill University and author of Leading from the Center: Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents, “of Trudeau in an ascot, looking very European, and Reagan in a brown suit, looking sort of midwestern.” Yet he points out that Reagan writes favourably in his memoirs about his first meeting with Trudeau, recalling how they agreed on the need for a closer North American alliance, planting the seeds of the free trade deal Reagan eventually signed with Brian Mulroney.
    When there’s a clash between American and international interests, or course, presidents tend, like politicians everywhere, to play to the home crowd. In Obama’s case, that might eventually spell disappointment for his legions of admirers abroad, including Canadians. “At a certain point it is more important for him to be popular in Peoria than in Ottawa, let alone than in Europe,” says Troy. Macleans, 2-18-09
  • Douglas Brinkley “The President’s Tone”: “You see Obama sputtering a lot in January and February 2009,” historian Douglas Brinkley told ABC for Good Morning America today. “It”s his rhetoric that keeps saving him.” “It’s a kind of new federalism going on,” Brinkley says, “a new belief in government. But I do think it needs to be packaged a little bit better so it’s not just an argument of ‘what company should we bail out?'” – ABC News, 2-17-09
  • Allan Lichtman “Obama’s Economic Stimulus Bill Most Ambitious Since Roosevelt”: “No one’s going to have 100 days like Franklin Roosevelt again, with 15 major pieces of legislation,” said Allan Lichtman, a political history professor at American University in Washington. “But leaving aside that impossible comparison, Obama’s accomplishments stack up very well.” – – Bloomberg, 2-17-09
  • John Thompson “Obama’s Trip to Canada Could Yield Lessons in Banking, Health, Duke Professor Says”: “Canada’s banking system is doing really, really well,” said John Thompson, a professor of history and in Duke’s Center for Canadian Studies. “Canada hasn’t had a single bank failure, and the World Economic Forum ranks their banking system as the healthiest in the world. America’s is number 40. Canadians save at much higher rates than people in the U.S., and because they’re not allowed to deduct mortgage payments, they aren’t seeing overheated real estate markets,” said Thompson, author of “Canada and the United States: Ambivalent Allies. Canadians spend nine percent of their GDP on health care — compared to the U.S.’s 16 percent — and still get better results overall,” he said. “And because the system is national, you don’t have this problem of businesses losing their competitiveness due to huge health insurance costs. In foreign policy, Canada has been pretty wise, too. They’ve fought alongside the U.S. in every major modern war — except Iraq and Vietnam. That looks like pretty good judgment in hindsight. Of course, there’s not really a trend of U.S. presidents taking advice from Canadians. There’s a pretty good chance this visit will be no more than a photo op for a rock-star president before his adoring Canadian fans.” – AScribe (press release), 2-17-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Too much space: Romney selling Utah home”: Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, says it’s hard to believe that Romney, as wealthy as he is, needed to downgrade. “If it’s not financial, it’s not inconceivable the memories of the McCain issue may be on his mind,” Zelizer says. He may be downsizing, “so when he runs next time he doesn’t have four to five homes for his opponent or President Obama to talk about.” – Salt Lake Tribune, 2-16-09
  • James K. Glassman “Stimulus: A History of Folly”: Before he was sworn in as President, Barack Obama began to lay out his plans for reviving an American economy that, it would later be discovered, had declined 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, its worst performance in 26 years…. He anointed the stimulus proposal with a convenient and vivid metaphor. “We’re going to have to jump start this economy with my economic recovery plan,” he said on January 3. According to the image, one can jolt a dormant economy into action just as one can hook up polarized cables to a car battery, clamp a defibrillator to the chest, or breathe into the ear of a reluctant lover. Suddenly, the object of our attention will be back in action, aroused. Alas, the questions raised by a proposed stimulus—whether to apply it, what sort it should be, how much it should cost, and when it should begin and end—are far trickier to answer than problems involving dead batteries…. – Commentary, 3-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Stakes are huge for Obama and nation”: Last week, Obama told an audience in Florida that if his economic recovery plan does not work, “then you’ll have a new president.” Regardless of whether Obama meant that he would not run again or that he would be defeated, he referred to how much is at stake with the federal programs that were debated over the past two weeks. But Obama severely understated what is really at stake. Far more than his presidency is at risk. The $787 billion economic recovery legislation, combined with financial bailout likely to cost more than a trillion dollars, has opened up a huge debate in American politics over the role of the federal government in an economic crisis….
    The stimulus package and financial bailout will become the symbol to show why government intervention does not work in times of economic crisis. This, according to liberal economists, is the danger posed by the compromises that were made by the administration — both in asking for less than most economists think is necessary and then settling for an even lower figure in the negotiations. The effects of new policies on politics can be enormous. When Americans enjoyed economic growth in the 1950s and 1960s, liberals were able to point to the New Deal and subsequent federal programs as powerful evidence that government intervention can benefit the nation. When Americans enjoyed renewed economic growth during the middle of the 1980s and much of the 1990s, conservatives looked back toward Reagan’s 1981 tax cut as proof that lowering the tax burden had boosted the economy. Regardless of Obama’s future, it is likely that Americans will be talking about this economic recovery and financial bailout programs years from now as they reach conclusions about whether the government can lift this country out of an economic crisis. – CNN, 2-16-09


  1. The Dissemination Machine

     /  April 13, 2009


    The American people know that Barack Obama will diligently attend to matters related to the economy.

    Speaking of Barack Obama—Barack Obama is a racial-minority individual and does not like racism:

    And Michelle Obama is a racial-minority individual and does not like racism:




    (I) I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed atrocious, racist, hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention. Many people know what Bush did. And many people will know what Bush did—even until the end of the world. Bush was absolute evil. Bush is now like a fugitive from justice. Bush is a psychological prisoner. Bush often worries. In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy.

    (II) It is opined that Bill Clinton committed terrifying, racist, hate crimes during his presidency, and I am not free to say anything further about it. ‘Be sure your sins will find you out’ (Numbers 32:23).

    (III) What if basically all racial-minority people would subscribe to the interpretations that George Herbert Walker Bush committed monstrous, racist, hate crimes while he was the President of the United States? It will eventually come out: it is only a matter of time.

    (IV) I know it may be hard to believe. However, Ronald Wilson Reagan committed horrible, racist, hate crimes during his presidency.

    – A.Y.W.

    (There are thousands of copies on the Internet (by March 29, 2009) indicating the contents of (I), (II), (III), and (IV). For example, one can go to Google right now, type “George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism,” hit “Enter,” and readily find 1,000 or more copies indicating content of (I). For example, one can go to Msn right now (12 April 2009), type “It is opined that Bill Clinton committed racist hate crimes, and I am not free to say anything further about it,” hit “Enter,” and readily find more than 460 copies indicating content of (II). For example, one can go to Msn right now, type “George Herbert Walker Bush committed monstrous, racist, hate crimes,” hit “Enter,” and readily find more than 200 copies indicating content of (III). For example, one can go to Msn right now, type “Ronald Wilson Reagan committed horrible, racist, hate crimes during his presidency,” hit “Enter,” and readily find more than 170 copies indicating content of (IV). The contents of (I), (II), (III), and (IV) exist extensively in all major search engines. And there are thousands of copies in very many countries around the world. For example, there are countless copies on the Internet in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, the United Kingdom, etc.)


    ‘If only there could be a Ban against invention that bottled up memory like scent & it never faded & it never got stale.’ Off the top of my head, it came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.

  2. i love canadiens

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