(CNN) - President Obama takes his first foreign trip Thursday, but domestic politics will loom large as he tackles the explosive issue of protectionism in a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the leader of the United States' largest trade partner.
At issue is a controversial so-called "Buy American" provision requiring the use of U.S.-produced iron, steel, and other manufactured goods in public works projects funded by the $787 billion economic stimulus bill.
Several Democratic-leaning unions and domestic steel and iron producers favor the provision; a large number of business and trade organizations are opposed.
Administration officials altered the language in the final version of the stimulus bill to ensure that the provision will not trump existing trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA. Canadian companies will therefore still have the chance to sell products used in stimulus-funded projects.
Canadian government officials, however, are still concerned by what they perceive as rising protectionist sentiment in the United States that could potentially spark a trade war and, in their opinion, deepen the global economic crisis.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama will pitch his plans this week for dealing with record home foreclosures and trying to thaw frozen credit markets - and taking some key lessons learned into consideration.
Aides said the White House has learned several lessons from the fight over the economic stimulus plan, including that the president is better at selling his ideas when he gets out of Washington.
"He has learned, over the course of the last few weeks, getting out to the country, getting the people to remember why they elected him, and I think he's going to continue to take the case directly to the American people," said CNN contributor Hilary Rosen.
A second lesson was articulated to a handful of newspaper columnists, including E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post, who were invited aboard Air Force One on Friday.
The president suggested he will no longer let bipartisanship become the barometer of his success, telling the columnist: "You know, I am an eternal optimist. That doesn't mean I'm a sap."
Dionne said, "By talking so much about bipartisanship, he allowed others to judge him by how much Republican support he got. He wants to get things done with or without Republican votes, preferably with them. But he will be happy if he just gets it through."
President Obama may have signed that massive stimulus bill into law today, but the scary part is it’s not clear if the almost $790 billion in government spending will be enough to do the trick.
The stock market tanked this morning, dropping 230 points in the first 90 minutes of trading. The stock market is now close to its lowest level in ten years. Investors are nervous that the stimulus plan won’t have the kind of impact it needs to begin to turn the economy around. Wall Street also gave a thumbs down to Treasury Secretary Geithner’s banking plan last week.
Then there’s Detroit. GM and Chrysler are set to tell the government today how they plan to stay afloat, they’ve already gotten more than $17 billion in government loans. If they can’t prove how they’ll survive in the future, they may not get any more.
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(CNN) - Hours before President Obama was set to sign the $787 billion stimulus measure, the White House launched Recovery.gov, a site that the White House is calling an “unprecedented step to increase transparency in government.”
The site aims to break down the massive bill into simpler terms that relate exactly where the money is being directed. It includes a video address from President Obama promoting the benefits of the plan.
The site also includes the full text of the bill itself, and a Frequently Asked Question's section that fields such queries as "How will the recovery plan work?," "How can I see how much recovery money is coming to my community?," and "What type of programs will this recovery package fund?"
"This is your money. You have a right to know where it's going and how it's being spent," the site states.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - President Obama on Tuesday will sign the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law. But he's far from being able to declare "Mission Accomplished."
Even though debate over the legislation was fraught with partisan fighting and what some characterize as strategic missteps by the nascent administration, getting the law passed was the easy part.
Far more difficult will be gauging whether the legislation's trademark initiatives - which include improving physical infrastructure, investing in energy projects and providing financial relief for families by way of tax cuts and increased government benefits - are really doing the trick.
President Obama goes out West today to sign the economic stimulus bill, and to talk about rescuing homeowners who are in trouble with their mortgages.
Why the Western swing? CNN’s John Lisk gets some answers from CNN Political Editor Mark Preston in today’s Political Notebook.
Listen: CNN Radio's Political Notebook
(CNN) – In her first interview since giving birth to son Tripp, Bristol Palin, daughter of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, said it’s not “realistic” to expect abstinence outside of marriage.
“Everyone should be abstinent . . . but it’s not realistic at all,” the 18-year-old told Fox’s Greta Van Susteren, adding that having sex as a teenager had become “more and more accepted now” among people her age.
The new mother, who gave birth to Gov. Palin’s first grandchild late last year, said her decision to go forward with an unplanned pregnancy was entirely her own.
“It was my choice to have the baby,” she said, in an interview that aired Monday night. “It doesn’t matter what my mom’s views are on it. It was my decision and I wish people would realize that too.”
Bristol Palin said she would eventually like marry Levi Johnston, her newborn son’s father. But they’ve “been focusing though on just getting through school and getting an education and stuff – getting a career going,” Palin said.
Palin said she was “excited to be a mom” and described her 2-month-old son Tripp as “awesome” and “very, very, very cute,” but said that other teenagers should not follow in her footsteps.
“I think everyone should just wait 10 years,” Palin said. Being a teenage mother “is not glamorous at all . . . your whole priorities change after having a baby.”
DENVER, Colorado (CNN) - Denver. Why Denver? There are several reasons why President Barack Obama will sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the Stimulus Plan, Tuesday in Colorado's capital city.
First of all, signing the bill outside of Washington allows Obama to escape the nation's capital, where the battle over the $787 billion piece of legislation turned into an ugly partisan battle, and to be close to people who the White House hopes will benefit from the massive bill.
The setting, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, is no accident either. Obama boasts that the stimulus will help create up to a half a million so called "green" jobs in the field of alternative energy. Prior to signing the bill into law, the president and Vice President Joe Biden will tour the museum's solar panel installation project.
Colorado has a growing green energy industry.
"Denver would be as good a place as any to highlight investments, putting people to work in energy jobs; investments that will help long-term growth," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
And finally, the Democrats held their convention in Denver last August, where then-Senator Obama officially accepted his party's presidential nomination. Obama ended up winning Colorado in the presidential contest, one of three western states that swung from the Republicans to the Democrats.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - General Motors Corp. and Chrysler will submit detailed restructuring plans Tuesday, while the White House is expected to decide on whether to free up billions more in bailout dollars.
President Obama will release $4 billion more in loans to keep GM afloat, an Obama official and a company official confirm. But the automaker already was expecting that money as part of a commitment the Bush administration made in December.
The more important question is whether GM and Chrysler can deliver viability plans to the Obama administration and convince it that they can survive long term and deserve more government cash down the road.
Ford Motor Co. said in December that it had more cash on hand and that it should be able to avoid tapping into federal dollars unless weak auto sales continue longer than expected in 2009.
On Monday night, GM officials were locked in eleventh-hour talks with their bondholders as well as their union to try to win some last-minute concessions and make the company more viable.
Obama, meanwhile, is creating a task force to oversee the restructuring of the auto industry, a senior administration official said Monday.