The Big Question is a feature where influential lawmakers, pundits and interest group leaders give their answers to a question that’s driving discussion in news circles around the country.

Some responses are gathered via e-mail, while others are gathered in person via tape recorder.

Today’s Big Question is:
What is the most significant takeaway from President Obama’s first 100 days in office?

Read responses below from Dean Baker, T. Boone Pickens, William Redpath, Anna Burger, Andy Roth, Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersbergr (R-Md.), Celinda Lake, and Larry Sabato.

Dean Baker, Co-Director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research, said:
President Obama has gotten off to a very good start with his stimulus package, an ambituous budget, and the first steps towards reforming health care.

In the rest of the year, he will need another round of stimulus. He will also have to move ahead with a viable health care plan. And he will have to finally lay down the law to Wall Street. A stock transfer tax would be a great place to start.

Larry Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics, said:
Nobody ever knows what tomorrow will bring, but so far this is the most competent Democratic White House team since the first two years of Lyndon Johnson. They know how to get things done in and out of Congress, and usually they are very good at framing the debate to benefit their side. Read the full response here.

Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) said:
An ability to communicate in an unprecedented way, with clarity and directness about the seriousness of the economic situation that he inherited compounded by the server economic contraction. I think that he put everything on the table and I think that is consistent with what others who know him better view his strength as and that is a great internal confidence and an ability to articulate the current situation, but also his thoughts about where he wants to take the country.

Response obtained in-person via audio recorder

Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) said:
It would have to be the $787 billion dollar American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, first. Second would be covering all of Americans children with healthcare with the SCHIP program. Third would be the budget. It seems like every week from one stabilizing -– the stimulus bill stabilized the economy. Therefore his economic policies seem to be working.

Response obtained in-person via audio recorder

Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger (R-Md.) said:
I think first his style of communication has helped settle the country down in a very difficult time. He has put a lot on the table because he made campaign promises and he is moving forward with…I think he has shown that he is willing to make decisions.

Response obtained in-person via audio recorder.

Anna Burger, Secretary-Treasurer of Service Employees International Union, said:
President Obama has made it clear from day one that we will not be able to rebuild our economy stronger than it was without a greater voice, and greater prosperity, for American workers.

That faith has inspired the kind of broad participation these past 100 days that’s key to turning the promise of change into reality. Read the full response here.

T. Boone Pickens, energy executive and architect of the Pickens Plan, said:
In his first 100 days, President Obama moved aggressively to push a stimulus plan that jump-starts our nation’s move to renewable energy, particularly wind and solar. That’s great, and I’m optimistic that he recognizes the need to address the economic and national security threat of foreign oil. Read the full response here.

William Redpath, Chairman of the Libertarian National Committee, said:
With the probable exception of Congressmen whom you could count on the fingers of one hand, no one takes the Constitution seriously anymore.

Andy Roth, Vice President of Government Relations at the Club for Growth, said:


Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners, said:
The need to campaign even as president and his success when he does that. The strong house leadership which gave him the victories he needed. His personal appeal which translates internationally and nationaly where ever he is.