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First 100 Days: Ratcheting up rhetoric

Politico writes, "In what was the most pointedly partisan speech of his young presidency, Obama rejected Republican arguments that massive spending in the $819 billion stimulus bill that passed the House should be replaced by a new round of massive tax cuts. 'I welcome this debate, but we are not going to get relief by turning back to the same policies that for the last eight years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin,' said President Obama – sounding more like Candidate Obama than at any time since he took the oath of office less than a month ago."

"Obama, speaking to about 200 House Democrats at their annual retreat at the Kingsmill Resort and Spa, dismissed Republican attacks against the massive spending in the stimulus. 'What do you think a stimulus is?' Obama asked incredulously. 'It's spending — that's the whole point! Seriously.'"

More from The Hill on Obama's remarks at the House Democratic retreat: "President Obama on Thursday told House Democrats to ask not what the economic stimulus plan can do for them, but what they can do to pass the economic stimulus plan… 'This package is not going to be absolutely perfect,' Obama told a packed room of over 200 Democrats in Williamsburg, Va. 'And you can nit and you can pick, you know that's the game we all play here. You know how to play that game. What I'm saying is, now we can't afford to play it,'" Obama continued.

The AP: "'The American people are watching,' Obama said. 'They did not send us here to get bogged down with the same old delay and distractions. They did not vote for the false theories of the past. They did not vote for the status quo - they sent us here to bring change, and we owe it to them to act.'"

Obama also issued some tough talk when he spoke at the Energy Department yesterday, the Wall Street Journal notes.  "Mr. Obama's recent courtship of Republicans gave way to blunt derision of their ideas for the stimulus, as he tried to raise the political pressure to pass a measure with a price tag of over $900 billion in the Senate. Republican proposals are 'rooted in the idea that tax cuts alone can solve all our problems, that government doesn't have a role to play, that half measures and tinkering are somehow enough, that we can afford to ignore our most fundamental economic challenges," the president said in an address at the Department of Energy Thursday. "Those ideas have been tested, and they have failed."

In his latest National Journal article, Charlie Cook argues that Obama needs to be at quarterback on key legislation, not the Democratic House. "What was so impressive about Obama's victory last November was that in winning 53 percent of the popular vote and 365 electoral votes, he showed a breadth of support that suggested a transcendent appeal… But the House-passed package suggested an effort exclusively of, by, and for Democrats, and it played to some of the worst stereotypes of the Democratic Party and of politics as usual on Capitol Hill. It implied that Obama had become a captive of, rather than the victor over, old-style politics. If Obama plays his own game, he can win. He certainly did in 2008. But if he plays someone else's, he loses."

Cook concludes, "Congressional Democrats are understandably anxious to put into place those programs and priorities that got nowhere while Democrats chafed under Republican rule. Expecting them to take naturally to this very different approach by Obama is unrealistic. For that very reason, the Obama White House must begin sending in the plays, or it risks having Hill quarterbacks call their own in ways that run counter to the president's game plan and have much less likelihood of success."