WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) - President Obama's economic team might be able to crack the champagne later this week: Congress is close to finalizing three bills aimed at helping consumers weather the financial crisis.
The bills would mark the first major pieces of economic legislation to cross the president's desk since he signed the stimulus package in February.
The legislation would crack down on credit card companies; direct more resources to fight mortgage fraud; and make it easier for struggling homeowners to get their mortgages modified.
They also underscore a political fact of life for Obama: While the economic agenda is front and center, and the president's popularity is soaring, his success in navigating the financial crisis is largely in the hands of Congress.
The stimulus bill – an extraordinary $787 billion in spending and tax cuts, passed during Obama's fourth week on the job – set a high bar.
"There are expectations to produce legislative accomplishments that probably aren't realistic," said Jaret Seiberg, a policy analyst with Concept Capital's Washington Research Group. "It's not like Congress can put the budget on hold, put the debate over military on hold. There's a whole bunch more to keeping this country running than the financial crisis."
(CNN) - Meghan McCain again took aim at some leaders of her party Monday night, declaring the GOP is currently being hijacked by those trying "to make it more extreme."
In an interview on The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, the outspoken daughter of Arizona Sen. John McCain said the party needs to broaden its message as it struggles to regain power in the halls of Congress and eventually the White House.
"I do believe the Republican Party can be a safe place for the gay community," McCain said in the at-times lighthearted interview. "President Obama said that he was going to repeal 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' and I think me and a lot of other people are still waiting on that and the Democratic Party isn't necessarily a better place for the gay community than the Republican Party is.
McCain's statements come only hours before Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is set to tell party leaders during a speech in Washington that the GOP should focus on conservative principles and that, "The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over."
But during the interview with the faux-conservative Colbert, McCain suggested the party's mantra of limited government does not conflict with more socially moderate principles.
"If you go to the basic beliefs of the Republican party of keeping government out of your life, why can't that include marriage?" she said.
McCain also criticized the recent push from Bristol Palin - the 17-year-old daughter of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin who gave birth last year to a baby boy - to promote abstinence among teenagers, calling it "not realistic for this generation.
"I think we need to have sex education with condoms, birth control and etc, etc.," McCain said. "I think that if the Republican Party says abstinence only is the only way to be then we're going to lose a lot of young voters and I think I wouldn't want to practice anything I didn't preach."
"It can be a party for a 24 year-old pro-sex woman. It can be," McCain also said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele on Tuesday strongly came out against a resolution supported by some committee members calling on Democrats to re-name their party the "Democrat Socialist Party."
Even though Steele has, in the past, accused Democrats of having a socialistic approach to government, he has so far distanced himself from the controversial resolution that is scheduled to be voted on Wednesday at meeting of the full committee. In an appearance on 'Meet the Press' on Sunday, the party chief said the resolution is not "an appropriate way to express out views on the issues of the day."
Asked on Tuesday if he is in favor of the effort to re-brand Democrats as socialists, Steele said, "No, I am not. I am not for that at all."
"I have mentioned that to folks inside the party and said that, you know, we should be smart and strategic about that," Steele said of the resolution on Fox News. "A lot of people have passions and the beauty of the Republican party is you get to express those passions in various ways."
Steele is scheduled address to the RNC later today, the second day of a three-day gathering of party members outside Washington.
Watch the event on CNN.com/live at 1 p.m. ET
(Updated after the jump with DNC response)
(CNN) - CNN's Candy Crowley reports on how social issues are re-emerging as Washington awaits a Supreme Court nominee.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will tell GOP state leaders Tuesday that they must embrace conservative principles, focus their efforts on rebuilding the party and highlight the policy differences between Republican ideals and President Obama's agenda.
"The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over," Steele will say in a speech to the RNC's 2009 State Chairmen's Meeting, according to excerpts obtained by CNN. "It is done. We have turned the page, we have turned the corner. No more looking in the review mirror. From this point forward, we will focus all of our energies on winning the future."
Congressional Republicans, who were loyal to President Bush throughout a majority of his two terms, largely sought to break with him in the 2008 elections because he had become a political liability.Over the past few months, GOP lawmakers have acknowledged that the party moved away from one of its core principles of smaller government and less federal spending during the Bush era.
Steele, who was elected to head the party in January, will say the GOP is now "beginning to rally" at the grassroots level after losing control of the White House and additional seats in the Senate and House in November.
Watch the speech on CNN.com/live at 1 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll indicates that only one in six Americans are worried that someone in their family will get the H1N1 flu.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Tuesday morning, indicates that concern over the flu, also known as the swine flu, has diminished somewhat, with 17 percent of people questioned saying they are worried that they or someone in their family will fall victim to the flu. An additional 20 percent say there were worried in the past few weeks but are no longer concerned. Sixty-three percent of those polled say they were never worried, but the poll suggests that there is a large gender gap on that measure. Among men, 71 percent said they have never worried about the flu; for women, that figure drops to 55 percent.
“Women are more likely than men to worry about the flu, possibly because women tend to fill the role of "health monitor" in American families,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
The poll also suggests that a majority of Americans, 54 percent, think the federal government’s response to the flu has been appropriate. But nearly four in ten questioned say the government as overreacted.
"Democrats and Republicans are equally likely to say that the government's response has been appropriate," Holland says.
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.
CNN: Obama, Netanyahu discuss U.S.-Israeli disagreements
President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday held their first face-to-face meeting since each took power, confronting a range of potentially divisive issues.
CNN: Steele: GOP must focus on conservative principles
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will tell GOP state leaders Tuesday that they must embrace conservative principles, focus their efforts on rebuilding the party and highlight the policy differences between Republican ideals and President Obama's agenda.
CNN: Clinton to be named U.N. envoy to Haiti
Former U.S. President Clinton has been tapped as a United Nations special envoy to Haiti, a senior U.N. official said Monday.
CNN: House Dems standing by Pelosi
As congressional Republicans continued Monday to stoke the flames over Speaker Nancy Pelosi's accusation the CIA lied to her about waterboarding, House Democrats appeared to be standing behind their leader.
CNN: Top Republicans want apology or proof from Pelosi
Top Republicans are demanding an apology from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or proof to back her claim that the CIA misled Congress about the use of harsh interrogation tactics.
CNN: Byrd hospitalized for infection
West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd was hospitalized late last week for a temperature spike caused by an infection, according to a statement released by Byrd's office Monday.
WSJ: Obama Avoids Test on Gays in Military
The Obama administration has decided to accept an appeals-court ruling that could undermine the military's ban on service members found to be gay.