Things are looking up: The stimulus bill was signed Tuesday and (some) Republicans are lauding Obama's efforts. Now the administration can turn to the whole struggling-homeowner issue. New drama out of Illinois could pose a distraction, but the president seems focused elsewhere, authorizing a massive troop increase in Afghanistan and taking his first trip abroad on Thursday. Obama gets 40 points on the Change-o-Meter today.
President Obama unveiled the $75 billion Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan today, a measure to help up to 9 million families avoid foreclosure. The housing market remains in decline, so this new move will help to stem the downward spiral, keeping people in their homes by allowing them to refinance their mortgages to take advantage of lower interest rates. For finally focusing on homeowners, not investors, Obama gets 20 points.
Another revelation in the ongoing drama of Obama's vacated Senate seat may not affect the president directly, but news that Roland Burris tried to raise money for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich—contrary to past statements—once again threatens to drag Obama back into the quagmire of Illinois politics. No points down, because the revelation doesn't implicate Obama or his team, but it's a distraction he can't afford.
The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to reconsider regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants—a direct challenge to a Bush-era policy that said officials could not consider greenhouse-gas output when weighing applications to build new coal plants. A ruling, however, could take months. No points yet, but it's a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, Obama announced the authorization of 17,000 additional troops to go to Afghanistan. This bumps troop levels nearly 50 percent, bringing the total number to around 55,000 by midsummer. The increase is desperately needed, as both military and civilian casualties have been high. Team Obama gets 20 points for acting on a key campaign promise.
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