Hot Docs: Preview of Obama's Stimulus Plan, Projections of Rising Deficits and a Slow Recovery

Today's selection of timely reports

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A Preview of Obama's Economic Stimulus Plan: For hints about the stimulus package that President-elect Barack Obama will propose to jump-start the nation's economy, it's worth looking at an early blueprint of an economic plan on his website. Called the Obama-Biden Plan, the document is from November and the first two weeks of the transition. It calls for a selection of expenditures and tax cuts, including everything from $25 billion in immediate spending to repair roads and bridges to a tax credit for businesses that hire new employees in the United States and a tax cut for 95 percent of workers. Transition aides tell U.S. News's Katherine Skiba that Obama's yet-to-be-unveiled American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan will be "substantially larger in size and scope" but will build on many of the ideas in this plan. The aides say the economy has "deteriorated substantially" since the early plan was developed.

U.S. Budget Outlook: Rising Deficits, Slow Recovery: In the near term, the outlook for the American economy looks pretty grim. Congressional Budget Office projections estimate that the current recession "will probably be the longest and the deepest since World War II." The federal deficit, likewise, is expected to make up a bigger chunk of the economy than it has for decades. This year's deficit is expected to total $1.2 trillion, or about 8.3 percent of the nation's total GDP. The CBO predicts that the recession will continue through the year and "could be severe," with any recovery proceeding slowly. At this point, a confluence of variables like the federal bailout effort, the housing crash, and international market turmoil makes it "too early to determine whether the government's actions to date have been sufficient to put the system on a path to recovery," the CBO says.

Surveying the Last 8 Years: As the Bush administration comes to a close, the Pew Research Center takes a look at how Americans' views of the country have changed over the past eight years. Right now, the mood is grim: 13 percent say they're happy with the way the country is going, versus 55 percent who said they were satisfied in 2000. The numbers suggest that Americans place much of the blame on Washington. Just 24 percent of respondents think President Bush has done a good job, and 19 percent say the same of Congress. This stands in contrast to eight years ago, when 61 percent of respondents said they approved of outgoing President Bill Clinton. People were also asked for their views on financial and social issues. The Pew researchers note that, in spite of the financial scandals of recent years, "the public remains split" on whether the government should be more involved in regulating businesses. Looking forward, a majority of Americans polled feel good about the future and believe the country "will be better off four years from now."

Keep Track of the Bad Guys From Your Desk: The National Counterterrorism Center has released its 2009 calendar, which is chock full of bad guys, wanted posters, anniversaries of notable terrorist incidents, and succinct descriptions of various terrorist organizations and their history. One highlight: an altered photograph of Osama bin Laden that shows what the al Qaeda leader would look like with a closely trimmed beard and a business suit. The calendar is available in a printable version that includes information about various explosives and a chart with helpful bomb-threat stand-off distances. There's also an online version with an interactive timeline, maps, and links. An NCTC spokesperson notes that, while the calendar may not be for everyone, "it's a prized resource for law enforcement and national security personnel." The calendar is posted on the National Counterterrorism Center website.

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