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First 100 days: Signing the stimulus

The Denver Post previews today's bill signing. "So is Colorado the 'before' picture, or the 'after' picture? President Barack Obama will sign the $787 billion stimulus package at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, at a time when Colorado represents a little of both. Home prices have shrunk and unemployment is up; Colorado-based companies have seen their stock prices plummet, and falling sales tax revenues plague local governments. Conversation on the street tends to turn to joblessness, fears of salary cuts, investment losses and health care costs."

"But Obama will be making his grand national gesture in a state where two of his pet industries of the future are thriving on new ideas and ambition, and which are ready to spend money as soon as he caps his pen. The stimulus includes billions in credits and grants meant to promote green energy production and independence from Middle East oil, and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, has long made those ideas key to his vision of creating Western jobs." 

The Washington Post notes some liberal misgivings about the stimulus. "Liberal Democrats recognize the package's scale and accomplishment, and they have defended it against Republican attacks. But they also wonder whether Obama could have used the opportunity of a large congressional majority and a moment of economic emergency to pass a bigger package, with a better chance of boosting the economy and with more of his priorities intact. As Obama moves on to issues such as health care and energy, liberals are debating how to ensure that the stimulus outcome does not define the outer boundaries of his agenda, so that future legislation is not limited, as the stimulus was, by the demands of centrist senators such as Susan Collins (R-Maine), Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)."

But the Post also writes that mayor of big cities are embracing the legislation. "Across the country, urban leaders and advocates say the stimulus plan that President Obama is to sign Tuesday will create jobs in cities and blunt the impact of the economic crash. But they hope the funding package only begins to hint at the ambitious urban policy agenda Obama has articulated." 

That's also true for many Republican governors, the New York Times adds. "President Obama must wish governors could vote in Congress: While just three of the 219 Republican lawmakers backed the $787 billion economic recovery plan that he is signing into law on Tuesday, that trifling total would have been several times greater if support among the 22 Republican state executives counted. The contrast reflects the two faces of the Republican Party these days."

"Leaderless after losing the White House, the party is mostly defined by its Congressional wing, which flaunted its anti-spending ideology in opposing the stimulus package. That militancy drew the mockery of late-night television comics, but the praise of conservative talk-show stars and the party faithful. In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic -- their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled -- conservatism." 

Bill Clinton said in an interview on TODAY that Obama is "off to a good start," and then he added later, "Did any of them seriously believe that if I had been president and my economic team had been in place the last eight years, that this would be taking place."

Stu Rothenberg analyzes what's left of Obama's political capital. "All of this means that the public's honeymoon with Obama is alive and well and likely to last for an extended period, but that not everyone in the public eye will be so lucky. The underlying weakness in the economy, and the crucial growing pessimism both in financial circles and the country at large, will certainly take a political toll on some officeholders in the near term. The public will want its scapegoat before the end of the year if no economic turnaround appears."

Donna Brazile, writing in Roll Call, expresses her doubts on bipartisanship because "it's just not" in Republicans' "DNA." "Even with two consecutive elections that increased their majority and decimated the GOP, it's naive for Democrats to believe that Republicans would go along to get along. It's just not in their DNA. Case in point: Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire."