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First 100 days: Foreclosure, auto plans

The New York Times previews the plan Obama will unveil tomorrow in Arizona to reduce home foreclosures. It will "include a mix of government inducements and new pressure on lenders to reduce monthly payments for borrowers at risk of losing their houses, according to people knowledgeable about the administration's thinking. The plan … is expected to include government subsidies for reducing a borrower's interest rate, which a lender would have to match with its own money."

The Washington Post: "General Motors and Chrysler raced to save their place in the American auto industry yesterday, putting the final touches on plans to curb production, cut jobs and pare brands in hopes of securing billions of dollars in additional federal aid. The plans they are scheduled to submit today to the Obama administration call for a broad restructuring of their operations at a time the industry is suffering one of its steepest declines in decades. But as detailed as the plans are, they are more of a starting point than an end." 

The New York Times has more: "G.M. will file what is expected to be the largest restructuring plan of its 100-year history on Tuesday, a step it must take to justify its use of a $13.4 billion loan package from the federal government. The plan will outline in considerable detail, over as many as 900 pages, how G.M. will further cut its work force, shutter more factories in North America and reduce its lineup of brands to just four, from eight, according to executives knowledgeable about its contents. The remaining core brands will be Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick."

In Japan, NBC's Andrea Mitchell sat down with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and discussed North Korea, the state of the world economy, what the U.S. can do, reaction from around the world as well as human rights. On North Korea, Clinton said, "It would not be helpful" for North Korea to test another long-range missile. "They entered into some agreements through the six party talks that we expect them to fulfill. They are also requirements on any nation that is contemplating a space launch that they haven't complied with." But when asked about enforcement, Clinton toed the line. "Well we'll wait and watch to see what they actually do. I don't want to telegraph any action. I want to make it as clear as I can as I have on numerous occasions that if the North Koreans do decide to fulfill their obligations and achieve denuclearization and end proliferation there are opportunities awaiting them which I think would be very attractive."
Asked whether this economic crisis was "made in America," as many around the world charge, Clinton said, "Well, it hit first in the United States, and it hit deeply… Globally there were many decisions that contributed to the slow down that has affected every part of the world, But, I think what is important now is that we work together… The passage of our stimulus bill was a very strong sign that the United States is taking seriously our obligation to try to grow our way out of this difficulty. But we're going to have to have partners."
And asked about fears and criticism around the world about potential American protectionism, the top U.S. diplomat, struck a, well, diplomatic tone: "It's a natural reaction, it's human nature. People are scared, and I fully understand that and that's universal. When you see your jobs disappearing when you are not sure that the business you work for is going to remain in business. People naturally get a kind of defensive attitude, but we can't let that interfere with the job No. 1, which is to grow this economy again. Each country will have to take steps internally to try to stimulate demand and to look at how to diversify our own economies. But, collectively we can't do anything that will slow down the recovery. So it's a balance, and everybody's walking that."

Per the Wall Street Journal, "Clinton announced a Feb. 24 summit in Washington between President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, as Washington and Tokyo seek to forge a more coordinated response to the global financial crisis. Mr. Aso will be the first foreign leader to meet with Mr. Obama in the White House."