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First 100 days: The housing debate

After the round heard round the Web and (by cable gawkers), "It seems like everyone -- even those who don't own a home -- has an opinion about whether the country should spend $75 billion to let strapped homeowners refinance at lower interest rates," the New York Daily News reports. 

"President Obama's massive housing bailout plan ignited a furious national debate yesterday, with advocates calling it a godsend and critics demanding to know why homeowners who pay their mortgages on time should subsidize those who don't," the New York Post writes.

Video: CNBC's Rick Santelli and Steve Liesman debate housing plan and the continuing slump on Wall Street.

TODAY had on CNBC ranter Rick Santelli to debate the merits with colleague Steve Liesman, who penned a favorable review of Obama's plan yesterday in the New York Daily News. Pressed for real solutions, Santelli offered none.

Meanwhile, the New York Times' David Brooks reluctantly endorses what the Obama folks are doing. "Actually executing this is a near-impossible task. Looking at the auto, housing and banking bailouts, we're getting a sense of how the propeller heads around Obama operate. They try to put together programs that are bold, but without the huge interventions in the market implied by, say, nationalization. They're balancing so many cross-pressures, they often come up with technocratic Rube Goldberg schemes that alter incentives in lots of medium and small ways. Some economists argue that the plans are too ineffectual, others that they are too opaque (estimates for the mortgage plan range from $75 billion to $275 billion and up). Personally, I hate the idea of 10 guys sitting around in the White House trying to redesign huge swaths of the U.S. economy on legal pads. But at least they seem to be driven by a spirit of moderation and restraint. They seem to be trying to keep as many market structures in place as possible so things can return to normal relatively smoothly."

Following a coalition of liberal groups' issue ads, a conservative group counters (really late, by the way) with an anti-stimulus ad that invokes... Jesus: "Suppose you spent $1 million every single day starting from the day Jesus was born -- and kept spending through today. A million dollars a day for more than 2,000 years. You would still have spent less money than Congress just did." 

Politico compares the stimulus debate to the 1990s. "During the presidential campaign, Candidate Obama told voters that he did not want to 'refight the battles of the 1990s.' Apparently, Congress did not get the memo."

About a year after the New York Times ran a lengthy piece that in a clause alluded to an affair McCain advisers were worried he was having with lobbyist Vicky Iseman, the Times runs this statement to readers in a settlement with Iseman: "An article published on February 21, 2008, about Senator John McCain and his record as an ethics reformer who was at times blind to potential conflicts of interest included references to Vicki Iseman, a Washington lobbyist. The article did not state, and The Times did not intend to conclude, that Ms. Iseman had engaged in a romantic affair with Senator McCain or an unethical relationship on behalf of her clients in breach of the public trust."

Reportedly, no cash exchanged hands. Here's the joint statement from the Times and Iseman's lawyers and one solely from her attorneys.