From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** First 100 days mania: While today is technically Obama's 94th day in office, that hasn't stopped the political world from starting its "First 100 Days" retrospectives of his presidency. David Broder today has a column that mostly praises Obama's start ("What he has shown …is a mastery of the art of managing the presidency"). So does Time's Joe Klein, per Politico ("Obama's start has been the most impressive of any President since F.D.R.") On the other hand, we'll most likely hear a much different assessment from House Minority Leader John Boehner, who at 10:45 am ET will discuss Obama's first 100 days. Meanwhile, the DNC has a new Web video criticizing the Republicans' start to the Obama presidency, calling them "100 Days of No." And AFSCME and Americans United begin running a TV ad on cable tomorrow that makes a similar argument about the GOP. Of course, there's a justification for everyone doing their 100-days analyses a bit early: For all intents and purposes, Obama's presidency seemed to start A LOT earlier than Jan. 20, right?
*** I feel good, I knew that I would...: Also in advance of Obama's first 100 days as president, a brand-new AP/GfK poll shows that for the first time in years, more Americans believe the country is headed in the right direction (48%) than those who think it's on the wrong track (44%). The AP says the finding is "a sign that Barack Obama has used the first 100 days of his presidency to lift the public's mood and inspire hopes for a brighter future." More: "Not since January 2004, shortly after the capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, has an AP survey found more 'right direction' than 'wrong direction' respondents." The AP poll is consistent with what we've seen in our own survey: Before he took office, the NBC/WSJ poll showed that just 26% thought the country was on the right track, but that number jumped 15 points (to 41%) in the poll that was released last month. Also in the new AP poll, 64% approve of Obama's job; twice as many say he's living up to his promises than not; and seven in 10 say it's reasonable to expect that it will take longer than a year to see the effect of his economic policies. It's no wonder House Minority Whip Eric Cantor continues to try to duck directly attacking the president and instead is turning his fire on congressional Democrats, namely, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
*** What's in your wallet? At 1:05 pm ET, President Obama will meet with representatives from 14 credit card companies. According to sources, among those companies will be American Express, Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Capital One, Visa, and MasterCard. Reuters also reports that Discover, HSBC, and US Bancorp will be at the meeting. Attending the meeting from the White House's end: Obama, Larry Summers, Valerie Jarrett (who organized the meeting), and maybe Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Interestingly, according to his schedule, Biden (who hails from the credit card-friendly state of Delaware) won't be attending. Obama's meeting with these companies is Populist Politics 101. There is absolutely no downside to lecturing these guys. As one GOP credit card lobbyist tells Politico, "If you are the chairman of Citibank, you don't want your card guy going in there, because you know, having been there, that the companies will get the s—- beat out of them by the president and Summers."
Video: Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee joins MSNBC's Morning Joe to discuss the president's budget priorities, the "deceptive practices" of credit card comapnies, and the state of the U.S. banking industry.
*** Mad at the banks: The fact is everyone -- Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, you name it -- are mad at the banks that issue credit cards. As these banks have been borrowing money from the government at record-low interest rates, they've turned around and charged the public VERY HIGH interest rates. They don't seem to be passing off any government savings to the consumers, which many folks were led to believe was the whole point of the bank bailout. Credit card folks will argue this is apples and oranges, but the public sees this as a very black-and-white situation.
*** Other news today: Here are two other big stories today. First, per the New York Times: "Taliban militants have established effective control of a strategically important district just 70 miles from the capital, Islamabad." No other country keeps the White House up at night more than Pakistan. And, per USA Today: "General Motors plans to essentially quit making cars and trucks in the U.S. for nine weeks from mid-May through July," shutting down 15 out of its 21 car and truck assembly plants in North America. and
*** Obama and the BCS: In addition to sitting down with credit card companies, Obama will deliver remarks at the Capitol at 11:00 am ET in remembrance of the Holocaust; he and Vice President Biden will meet with congressional leaders -- Dem and Republican -- at 2:15 pm; and then he welcomes the University of Florida Gators to celebrate their national championship in college football. But wait a second… As a proponent of fixing the BCS System, Obama earlier remarked that USC, Texas, and Utah had legitimate claims to the national title; after all, Florida had one loss (so too did USC and Texas, and Utah went undefeated). In fact, your First Read authors argued that if Obama were serious about reforming the BCS, then he'd invite those teams, too. So Mr. President, why didn't you also invite to the White House today? Is this the change we can believe in? Trust us, for one of your authors -- the Miami fan -- it's hard enough to see the Gators at the White House celebrating anything, but it would be nice to dilute their enthusiasm a tad.
Countdown to Obama's 100th day: 6 days
Countdown to NJ GOP primary: 40 days
Countdown to VA Dem primary: 47 days
Countdown to Election Day 2009: 194 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 558 days
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