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Obama agenda: BP pays up

Obama’s day: “Obama and the secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, plan to discuss Mabus' role in developing a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan. Mabus knows the region -- he is a native of Mississippi and served as that state's governor from 1988 to 1992. The president also will have meetings with the Veterans of Foreign War's new commander in chief, Tommy Tradewell, and Marine Corps commandant nominee Gen. James Amos. Obama will meet separately with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

The Washington Post: “The much-anticipated showdown Wednesday at the White House between President Obama and top BP executives turned into no-nonsense business meeting in which the oil giant agreed to pay $20 billion into an escrow account to cover claims associated with the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.”

More: “Both sides got what they wanted out of the encounter. The administration, under fire for how it has responded to the environmental calamity, can boast of creating a huge pot of money for easing the pain of Gulf Coast residents. BP, though poorer on paper in the short run, got some much-needed clarity on its long-term liability, plus an explicit statement from Obama that the administration doesn't want to see BP driven into bankruptcy.”

"… Mr. Obama was able to throw something of a lifeline to desperate coastal residents worried about meeting payrolls, mortgages and shrimp boat payments," the New York Times says of the agreement. "Under the famous portrait of a charging Theodore Roosevelt on horseback, administration and company officials haggled over last details in an extraordinary White House meeting that went more than four hours, double the time scheduled, and was punctuated by breaks as each side huddled separately. Finally, participants said, Mr. Obama sealed the deal in a private, 25-minute session with BP’s chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg."

The New York Daily News reports that Vice President Biden played the bad cop on establishing the escrow: “Sources told the Daily News that Biden leaned forward and bluntly informed the Blight Brigade they had no choice: If they didn't do the right thing and put the cash in escrow, it would be done to them.”

The New York Times writes that BP could have to fork over even more money, if the Justice Department files criminal charges against the company. “Based on the latest estimates, for example, the daily civil fine for the escaping oil alone could be $280 million. But criminal penalties, if imposed, could cause the costs to balloon still further, said David M. Uhlmann, a law professor at the University of Michigan, who headed the environmental crimes section of the Justice Department from 2000 to 2007.”

Thirty-two million people watched Obama’s Oval Office speech. That is a big number, but lower than the number that watched the State of the Union or his Afghanistan speech.

“A new Associated Press-Gfk poll finds public support for President Barack Obama's health care law has risen to its highest point to date. Yet the nation remains divided over the new law, with 45 percent in favor and 42 percent opposed. Still, that's a significant change from May, when supporters were outnumbered 39 percent to 46 percent.” (There was even an uptick among Republicans.)