updated 3/2/2009 1:10:51 PM ET 2009-03-02T18:10:51

Happy Friday!

Hello everybody and welcome to the Shuster "Daily Briefing" for February 27, 2009. We have a terrific show coming together for you tonight. The big news today was President Obama's announcement about a troop withdrawal timeline from Iraq.

Under the Obama plan, most of the troops will leave Iraq by August of 2010. Another 35,000 to 50,000 will stay 18 months after that  as a "residual force." But, the President says he intends to honor a "status of forces" agreement with Iraq that calls for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq by December 31, 2011. We will start the show with excerpts of the President's Iraq speech today in North Carolina.

Also, did you hear about President Obama's phone call to President Bush today? The White House said Mr. Obama delivered a "courtesy call" to Mr. Bush shortly before today's speech. We will talk about that with one of our White House correspondents near the start of tonight's program. Then, we will chat about Iraq policy with Democratic House Leadership member Chris Van Hollen. In our second block, we will examine some of the disappointment over the plan on the Democratic left.

Amy Goodman hosts "Democracy Now" and is among those who are criticizing the plan to keep up to 50,000 troops in Iraq for another two and a half years.

Later in the show, we will get the latest on the situation in Iraq with NBC's Richard Engel. And, we will throw him your questions via Twitter.  So, go to my Twitter page. Richard is excited to try and answer what's on your mind about Iraq.

This week, the House of Representatives passed a $410 billion appropriations bill. It was based largely on requests made in 2008. Still, for all of the talk by the President and leaders in Congress about earmark reform, this measure goes in the opposite direction.  Nearly $7 billion is made up entirely of earmarks and pork barrel projects that never faced the usual Congressional Review. It's especially ironic to see this measure fly through Congress given all of the complaints in recent weeks about "government spending."  We will talk about that in "Hypocrisy Watch."

At half past, we will bring you the sights/sounds of the big Conservative conference that continues here in Washington, D.C.

We told you yesterday about featured speaker "Joe the Plumber." Today, we will talk about Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and RNC Chair Michael Steele. Steele made some really bizarre remarks the other day about Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.  Steele's latest pronouncements are equally bizarre.

Also, there was some more awful economic news today. The GDP, or gross domestic product, fell at an annualized rate in the 4th quarter of last year at 6.2%.

It's the biggest contraction in our economy in 28 years. Also, it was a far steeper drop than most economists were predicting. Most economists are predicting the contraction will be even more severe in the first quarter of '09. There are some huge political implications in all of this. We will go through them with CNBC's John Harwood.

Then, we will turn to our panel:  Michael Crowley, Joshua Greene, and Emily Heil.

Finally, we will talk about the unusual argument in the White House these days over Coke versus Pepsi. Plus, Stephen Colbert weighs in on Sen. Claire McCaskill's twittering. And we will take your Twitter questions and pose them to NBC's Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel – live from the Mideast.

Our "Quote of the Day" comes from Anwar Sadat:

"There can be hope only for a society which acts as one big family, not as many separate ones."

Thanks in advance for watching tonight's show.  "1600" airs at 6 p.m. in Washington;  5 p.m. in St. Louis;  4 p.m. in Great Falls; and 3 p.m. in San Diego.



Discussion comments