Outlook

A Short Honeymoon

As Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie write in this week's Outlook section, six months into his presidency, President Obama continues to enjoy high approval ratings, but his domestic agenda is flagging.
January
28: After intense lobbying by Obama, the House passes an $819 billion stimulus package with no Republican votes.

February
3: Former Sen. Tom Daschle, Obama's nominee for secretary of health and human services and a key figure in the administration's plan for health-care reform, withdraws from consideration because of tax problems. "I think Tom Daschle would have been the best person to help shepherd through a health-care bill through a very difficult process in Congress," Obama says.

12: Sen. Judd Gregg withdraws as nominee for commerce secretary, citing "irresolvable conflicts" with the administration over the economic recovery plan and the Census.

March
A Pew Research Center poll shows that 88 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of Republicans approve of Obama, the largest partisan gap for any president in 40 years.

April
A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 41 percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of the crisis involving U.S. automakers.

June
Unemployment hits 9.5 percent, up from 8.1 percent when Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus bill in February.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that more than 80 percent of Americans worry that health-care reform will raise costs or lower the quality of care.

15: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the Senate health-care bill would cost the government $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

22: A CBO report says that House climate change legislation would cost the average household $175 per year by 2020. According to Washington Post-ABC News polls, support for the "cap and trade" proposal dipped from 59 percent in July 2008 to 52 percent in June 2009.

26: The House passes the climate change bill in a 219 to 212 vote. Forty-four Democrats oppose it.

July
A CBS News poll shows that 57 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track.

Supporters acknowledge that Obama's climate change bill may not have the support to pass the Senate and that hopes for passing health-care legislation before the August congressional recess look dim.

5: Vice President Biden says the administration "misread how bad the economy was."

9: After promises to finish the climate change legislation by early August, the Senate environment committee delays work until September.

11: Responding to criticism that the stimulus package isn't working, Obama asks for patience and indicates that a second stimulus is not forthcoming.

14: The CBO estimates that the House version of health-care legislation, like the Senate version, would cost $1 trillion over 10 years.

15: The Senate health committee approves health-care legislation, but Obama's plan continues to face criticism from Republicans, moderate Democrats and industry lobbyists.

16: In testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, the director of the CBO says that proposed health-care legislation would not make "the sort of fundamental changes" needed to control the cost of government health programs and would further stretch the federal budget.

17: The House health-care bill passes the Ways and Means Committee as well as the Education and Labor Committee.

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