Obama's Third Day: Missile Strikes, Abortion 'Gag Rule', Stimulus Package, First Ethics Exception

Obama's Third Day: Missile Strikes, Abortion 'Gag Rule', Stimulus Package, First Ethics Exception

On Friday, his third day in office, Obama signed an executive order lifting what is known as the abortion 'gag rule'. From the AP:

President Barack Obama on Friday struck down the Bush administration's ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide abortion information--an inflammatory policy that has bounced in and out of law for the past quarter-century.[...]

The Bush policy had banned U.S. taxpayer money, usually in the form of Agency for International Development funds, from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information, counseling or referrals about abortion as a family planning method.

Critics have long held that the rule unfairly discriminates against the world's poor by denying U.S. aid to groups that may be involved in abortion but also work on other aspects of reproductive health care and HIV/AIDS, leading to the closure of free and low-cost rural clinics.

Suspected US missiles killed 18 people on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border on Friday, the AP reported. These missile attacks were the first launched by Obama since becoming President, according to ABC News.

Pakistan's leaders had expressed hope Obama might halt the strikes, but few observers expected he would end a tactic that U.S. officials say has killed several top al-Qaida operatives and is denying the terrorist network a long-held safe haven.

Obama also met with House and Senate leaders from both parties in the morning to discuss his new stimulus package. While Obama has stressed his desire for the stimulus package to be crafted in a spirit of bipartisanship, that outreach will only go so far, HuffPost's Sam Stein reported:

Barack Obama and his team of advisers have framed the process of crafting a stimulus package as one that will be inclusive and bipartisan in nature.

But in private and increasingly in public, Democrats are scoffing at some of the demands of their Republican brethren. Elections have consequences, the refrain goes. The GOP can expect consultation and input, but anything beyond that is gravy.[...]

An emerging attitude among Democrats [is] that Obama should not deviate much, if any, from his recovery plan proposal in order to accommodate the opposition. The president himself, in a meeting with House and Senate GOP and Democratic officials Friday morning, defended his position by noting, succinctly: "I won."

Obama upset a number of Democrats and government watchdogs on Friday by nominating William Lynn as Deputy Secretary of Defense. HuffPost's Sam Stein explains:

Having lobbied the government on behalf of the defense industry giant Raytheon, Lynn's appointment violates the newly-instituted ethics guidelines that the president applied to his staff shortly after taking office. Questioned about the transgression, the White House said Lynn was being granted a waiver.

But there is a second layer to the Lynn issue that also is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of Democrats, good government groups and Republicans eager to cry hypocrisy. Raytheon is no mom-and-pop defense contractor shop. It is the type of industry behemoth that protesters of the Iraq invasion bemoaned for profiting off of the war and encouraging militarization. And as the man who led "the company's strategic planning and [oversaw] the government relations activity," Lynn was intimately involved.

In response to Lynn's nomination, John McCain issued his first criticism of Obama since the election, saying he was "disappointed" that Obama had hired a defense lobbyist.

Read about Obama's first day in office..

Read about Obama's second day in office.

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