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First 100 days: Risks for both sides

Politico says the stimulus debate has risks for Obama -- but also for the Republicans. "The risks for Obama are considerable. He and the Democrats will have no one else to blame if the package fails to boost the economy. Obama himself has said his first term can be judged on whether it succeeds, whether it creates or saves the 3 million to 4 million jobs he promises. And if the economy fails to show marked signs of improvement -- a possibility indeed -- Republicans will have a megabillion-dollar 'I told you so' in their pockets, just in time for the 2010 midterm elections and Obama's own reelection bid in 2012."

More: "Yet Republicans are gambling themselves -- and perhaps with even higher stakes. Still seeking a way forward from their Election Day thumping, they risk appearing out of touch as the unemployment rate jumps to 7.6 percent and a popular new president is appearing to seek their support to address the crisis. By turning their backs on him and opposing action at a time when millions of Americans are in need, they may invite a 'party of no' bull's-eye on their backs."

A new Gallup poll provides some good news for Obama, though. "The American public gives President Barack Obama a strong 67% approval rating for the way in which he is handling the government's efforts to pass an economic stimulus bill, while the Democrats and, in particular, the Republicans in Congress receive much lower approval ratings of 48% and 31%, respectively."

And: "The new Gallup Poll shows that a majority of Americans (51%) say passing a new economic stimulus plan is 'critically important' for improving the nation's economy, while another 29% say it is important. Only 16% say it is 'not that important.'" (But if the numbers are this good, then why is Team Obama stepping on the gas? White House officials will say it's a chance to bring America's problems to Washington's attention. But the cynics will say they're seeing something in the numbers that concerns them.) 

The New York Times previews Obama's trip to Indiana, as well as his primetime address tonight. "On Monday night, Mr. Obama will address the nation for the first time in a prime-time appearance from the East Room of the White House and make his argument for why the economic bill is necessary. When he does, aides said, he will recount his visit earlier in the day to Elkhart, Ind., a city he visited twice during the presidential race that has seen its unemployment rate rise to 15.3 percent, largely because of layoffs in the recreational vehicle industry." 

The Hill table-sets Obama's week: "President Obama is headed into one of the first critical weeks of his presidency as he pushes a fiscal stimulus plan he believes will start to dig the economy out of recession and rebrands a highly unpopular bailout package to support the financial world. The roughly $800 billion stimulus plan and his efforts this week to redesign how the remaining $350 billion of the financial bailout package is used will go a long way toward crafting his vision of how the federal government aims to prop up the economy in the coming months and year. And in the course, Obama will be in effect laying out a broader model of how his presidency intends to use the government's resources to get the private sector back on track." 
 
The AP: "President Obama plunges into a difficult test of his leadership this week, struggling to get a divided Congress to agree on his economic recovery package while pitching a new plan to ease loans to consumers and businesses."

So stimulus is the easy part? The New York Times writes, "The stimulus package is the easiest element of the solution to understand, and the easiest to sell politically: just about every member of Congress can go home and explain how it benefits constituents. But as Mr. Geithner and his team have discovered as they try to put together the bank bailout, the politics are running against them. Bankers have become symbols of excess and greed, making the politics of pouring more money into propping up Wall Street and the financial system that much trickier."

The Wall Street Journal: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is expected to announce that the government will become a partner with the private sector to purchase banks' troubled assets, according to people familiar with the matter. The plan for a so-called aggregator bank, a variation on a theme that Obama administration officials have wrestled with for weeks, is among four main components of Mr. Geithner's bailout revamp, which he is expected to announce Tuesday."

Turning to Obama's international agenda, Richard Holbrooke will be making his first stop in Pakistan in his new role as special envoy to the region. And Holbrooke sure knows how to make headlines "In a nuclear-armed nation regarded as an ally of the United States and considered pivotal by the Obama administration to ending the war in neighboring Afghanistan, Mr. Holbrooke will face a surge of anti-American sentiment on clear display by private citizens, public officials and increasingly potent television talk shows."

"Some remedies offered by his hosts are likely to be unappealing. On almost every front, Pakistani leaders are calling for less American involvement, or at least the appearance of it. The main reason for the swell in resentment here is the very strategy that the United States government considers its prime success against Al Qaeda: missile strikes delivered by remotely piloted aircraft against militants in Pakistan's tribal areas."