Thursday, January 31, 2008

ThinkFast: January 31, 2008


A new poll finds that Americans have “a decidedly dour view of how things are going in the country” and “great expectations for the next president’s ability to get things done.” “Fully three-quarters” of the public believe the president has influence over health care costs, and “two-thirds of those under age 35 believe it’s still possible to change the way Washington works.”

Next week, President Bush is expected to call for deep cuts in Medicare and Medicaid in this year’s budget, as lawmakers will have to work to “spare doctors from a 10 percent cut in Medicare fees that would otherwise take effect on July 1.”

Yesterday, Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Linda Sanchez (D-CA) demanded that former attorney general John Ashcroft testify “about his appointment to oversee a Justice Department corporate settlement.” Their letter asks Ashcroft to appear at a Feb. 26 hearing, noting that he had ignored previous requests.

Gen. David Petraeus will likely call for an operational “pause” in withdrawals when he testifies before Congress in April. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and top military officers have said “they would like to see continued withdrawals throughout this year, but Bush has indicated he is likely to be guided by Petraeus’s views.”

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), who co-chairs the Progressive Caucus, said she will “reintroduce legislation calling for a troop withdrawal from Iraq and urge leadership to move the measure in the wake of the economic stimulus package that has been the center of attention for several weeks.”

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that one in six soldiers returning from Iraq has suffered concussions, leaving them “at higher risk for” post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Last night’s Republican debate spawned at least one memorable surprise: all four GOP candidates appeared to express support for California in its battle with the U.S. EPA to get a waiver it needs to implement its greenhouse-gas emissions standards for vehicles.”

NATO forces in Afghanistan are in a “strategic stalemate,” according to a new military assessment. “Make no mistake, NATO is not winning in Afghanistan,” said the report by the Atlantic Council of the United States, chaired by former NATO commander Gen. James Jones.

And finally: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) recently blew Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) “chance to win a few dollars — legally — on his beloved New York Giants in the NFC championship game against the legendary Green Bay Packers on Jan. 20.” The day before the game, Schumer asked Weiner — who was in Las Vegas — “to put $50 on the Giants for him at one of the casino’s sports books.” The good news for Schumer was that the Giants won. The bad news? “I forgot to place your bet,” Weiner confessed.

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