March 10, 2009
"Let me just note immediately, so that perhaps we can avoid the typical Washington game of gotcha, the Administration has been very clear that we put a significant down payment on the table. But on exactly what the Administration does and does not favor on the benefits and coverage side, you should not expect and you will not be receiving definitive answers from me."
Peter Orszag, head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), telling lawmakers that deciding how precisely health-care reform is conceived is largely up to them
"We have to keep the door open to see how it goes."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying she's willing to consider a second government stimulus package if the first doesn't do enough
President Obama's surrogates slug it out on the Hill over critical issues on the full plate the Administration has taken on. Orszag makes clear how different Obama's approach to health-care reform will be from that of the previous Democratic Administration, telling lawmakers they shouldn't expect specific instructions on how to craft the reform plan as long as it satisfies certain core principles. Pelosi counters criticism of the President's stimulus by leaving the door open to another government injection into the economy if needed, something Republicans are quick to pounce on.
Obama spends his day talking up education policy, delivering a speech at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in which he calls on states to "stop low-balling expectations for our kids" and reaffirms his support for merit pay for teachers.
The day ends with the Senate's approval of a $410 billion omnibus spending bill, 62 to 35, after over a week of partisan debate over the amount of earmarks in it. The White House says Obama will sign the legislation left over from the previous Congress despite his opposition to the pork in it.