[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/28/art.geithner.gi.jpg caption="Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says he never rides first class."]
(CNN) - As the government tries to curb corporate excess of companies receiving federal bailout money, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appears to be leading by example.
The man who was grilled by Congress last week over the AIG bonuses took the Delta shuttle from New York to Washington on Saturday, riding in the coach section. Asked why not first class, Geithner said he always rides coach, "never first class".
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/28/obama.campaign/art.questions.whitehouse.jpg caption="President Obama held an online town hall, in which people could send in questions from their computers."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - From fielding questions online, to the staging of events across the country, to deploying thousands of volunteers, President Obama and Democrats are using the same tools that helped them win the White House to push the administration's agenda.
Supporters say the same tactics used during the campaign also work to educate Americans about the president's proposed budget and the stimulus plan.
Political experts say in order for Obama to keep his approval ratings high, he will need his agenda to be successful. To do that, they say, he and the White House will need to keep up the sales job.
The legions of volunteer supporters from the 2008 election are key to that effort. Democrats have a database of more than 13 million e-mail addresses and are eager to harness that support.
The Democratic National Committee has formed a new group called Organizing For America. Last weekend, it organized 10,000 volunteers to canvass across the country to get 100,000 people to pledge support for the administration's policies.
"We are not an electoral organization. I mean this is really about legislative advocacy and so we are going to continue supporting the president's agenda and we are not looking at 2010, and we are not looking at 2012," Mitch Stewart, executive director of Organizing for America, told CNN. "What we are looking at what kind of grassroots organization can best support the president's agenda."
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/28/afghanistan.polls/art.afghanistan.gi.jpg caption="U.S. forces have been engaged in fierce fighting to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - How does the American public feel about the war in Afghanistan? In a word, wary.
President Obama on Friday announced his strategy to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a plan that includes more troops, new legislation, improved troop training and added civilian expertise.
"The United States of American did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan. Nearly 3,000 of our people were killed on September 11, 2001," Obama said Friday.
"We have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan," he said.
Stressing that "the safety of people around the world is at stake," Obama said the "situation is increasingly perilous" in the region in and around Afghanistan, where the United States has been fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban for more than 7½ years after attacks in New York and at the Pentagon.
Nevertheless, the American public has been wary about the war in Afghanistan, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted in February.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/28/art.gregg.jpg caption="Sen. Judd Gregg says Obama's budget is excessive."]
(CNN) – Sen. Judd Gregg said the proposals in President Obama’s budget “represent an extraordinary move of our government to the left.”
“It is our opinion that this plan spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much,” said Gregg, R-New Hampshire, in the weekly Republican address.
“The president to his credit is not trying to hide this; in fact he is very forthright in stating that he believes that by greatly expanding the spending, the taxing and the borrowing of our government, this will lead us to prosperity,” he said.
Gregg said he believes the way to run a sound government is by “working on limiting the growth of government” in a manner that is sustainable.
Gregg said he appreciates the president’s efforts but was concerned about where they would take the country.
“Our nation has an exceptional history of one generation passing on to the next generation a more prosperous and stronger country, but that tradition is being put at risk,” he said.
Obama chose Gregg as his pick for commerce secretary, after New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew his nomination. Gregg later withdrew his name, citing "irresolvable conflicts" over the administration's stimulus bill and the upcoming 2010 census.
Full text of Republican address after the jump
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/03/26/wtja.economy.jobs/art.road.work.gi.jpg caption="The stimulus package is helping states put people to work, but some governors worry what will happen when the funds run out."]
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - It's not that easy to turn down federal funds.
Several governors who initially voiced concerns about expanding state unemployment benefits to qualify for federal stimulus funds have decided to accept the money. Some were feeling the heat from jobless constituents, while others took comfort in learning recently from the federal Department of Labor that they could curtail eligibility later on.
The benefits expansion is among the most controversial components of the stimulus package, and it comes at a time when millions of people across the nation are losing their jobs. The nation's unemployment rate stood at 8.1% in February and is expected to climb to 8.5% when the March figures are released next Friday.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act requires state legislatures to broaden the unemployment guidelines to allow more women, part-timers and low-wage workers to qualify.
In return, the states will get to partake in a $7 billion federal grant aimed at helping the unemployed. At least 19 states automatically qualify for the funds since they already had widened eligibility.
Some state officials, however, are concerned they will have to fund the expanded program by hiking taxes on employers once the federal money runs out. But they were soon hit by a backlash of anger from state lawmakers, unions and jobless residents.
(CNN) - President Obama on Saturday announced his plans to nominate three more people for posts at the Department of the Treasury.
Obama selected Helen Elizabeth Garrett as assistant secretary for tax policy; Michael Barr as assistant secretary for financial institutions; and George Madison as general counsel.
“The Treasury Department will be well-served by the expertise and commitment of these fine individuals. Under the leadership of Secretary [Timothy] Geithner, I have great confidence that they will be valuable and effective additions to our team as we tackle our nation’s economic challenges,” the president said in a written statement.
Bios of the nominees, as prepared by the White House, are available after the jump.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/27/st.louis.no.bus/art.bus.stop.cnn.jpg caption="St. Louis, Missouri, is having to cut back on bus routes. This could devastate some of the area's most vulnerable."]
BALLWIN, Missouri (CNN) - For Stuart and Dianne Falk, it is a two-bus, 45-minute trip into downtown St. Louis to head to the gym and to volunteer at a theater group.
And it is a lifeline that ends Friday.
"To be saddled, to be imprisoned, that is what it is going to feel like," says Stuart Falk. "It is going to feel like being punished for something we didn't do."
Stuart and Dianne Falk are confined to wheelchairs. And the bus route that takes them downtown, and to one of the few tastes of personal freedom they have, is being eliminated because of a funding crunch.
In all, two dozen bus routes are being eliminated outright effective March 30. Numerous other routes have been shortened or otherwise modified, including less frequent runs. Light rail service schedules also have been scaled back as part of an effort to close a $51 million funding shortfall.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/26/art.getty.obama.online.th.jpg caption="Obama said he didn't think legalizing pot would boost the economy."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Marijuana backers aren't laughing about President Obama's flippant dismissal of a pot-related question during Thursday's online town hall meeting - and the country's leading marijuana advocacy group, The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has seen its donations quadruple over the last 24 hours.
Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of NORML, told CNN "our donation boxes started to flood" after Obama laughed off a Web question about whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation. St. Pierre said traffic to the group's Web site has "increased precipitously" since Thursday.
"About half of the donation comments have a reference to Mr. Obama's comments," St. Pierre said. "As far as I'm concerned, he could show up every single day and rag on marijuana."
Watch the president's pot-related comments
Admittedly, the group isn't a fundraising juggernaut: NORML averages about $900 in donations daily, a total that jumped to $3,500 in the 24 hours since Obama joked about pot at the town hall.
But St. Pierre said the anger among marijuana legalization advocates is real.
"Many of them were profoundly disappointed because many of them with great enthusiasm supported Obama from the point of his announcement to when he became president," he said.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/weather/03/28/north.dakota.flooding/art.sandbags.cnn.jpg caption="Volunteers at a Fargo, North Dakota, city facility continue to fill and stack sandbags Friday."]
FARGO, North Dakota (CNN) - President Obama said his administration plans to keep a close watch on and help fight the rising waters in the Dakotas and Minnesota.
"Even as we face an economic crisis which demands our constant focus, forces of nature can also intervene in ways that create other crises to which we must respond and respond urgently," Obama said Saturday in his weekly webcast.
"For the people of North and South Dakota and Minnesota who live along rivers spilling over their banks, this is one such moment."
Troops and aircraft were being sent overnight to North Dakota to assist state and local officials ahead of record flooding, as residents along the Red River nervously eyed shored-up dikes and levees.
Full text of Obama's weekly address after the jump
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/03/28/afghanistan.us/art.karzai.afp.gi.jpg caption="President Hamid Karzai says Obama's plan has Afghanistan's full support."]
KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday praised U.S. President Barack Obama's new plan for the war in Afghanistan.
"He has our full support," Karzai told a news conference. "This was better than what we expected."
Obama unveiled the plan Friday which called for more troops, new legislation, improved troop training and added civilian expertise in the war in Afghanistan.
Obama said the plan would address what he called an "international security challenge of the highest order."
Obama said the "situation is increasingly perilous" in the region in and around Afghanistan, where the United States has been fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban for more than seven and a half years after it was attacked in New York and at the Pentagon.
Obama said he is sending another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan along with hundreds of civilian specialists, such as agricultural specialists, educators and engineers.