Thursday, December 17, 2009

ThinkFast: December 17, 2009


Former Gov. Howard Dean writes in the Washington Post, “If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health-care bill. … Washington has decided, once again, that the American people cannot be trusted to choose for themselves.” But Paul Krugman defends the bill as “a big step toward greater security for Americans and greater social justice.”

Trying to stave off liberal criticism, White House senior adviser David Axelrod told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Dean’s criticisms of health care reform are “predicated on a bunch of erroneous conclusions” and that for progressives to torpedo the legislation “would be a tragic, tragic outcome.”

Liberal groups and labor unions “have pulled back from calls to kill the Senate healthcare bill” while progressive senators “are coalescing behind the legislation, tailored to centrist demands.” But House Democrats and other liberal groups are “hoping to win a few concessions in conference.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will not be rallying votes for President Obama’s troop increase in Afghanistan, telling reporters “that she is finished asking her colleagues to back wars that they do not support.” “The president’s going to have to make his case,” said Pelosi. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) plans to introduce a resolution next month calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Two senior U.N. officials have said that soon after it was becoming clear that major fraud took place in Afghanistan’s presidential election in August, the number 2 U.N. official there, American Peter Galbraith, “proposed enlisting the White House in a plan to replace” Hamid Karzai as Afghan president. Karzai “became incensed when he learned of the plan” and Galbraith was fired weeks later.

The House approved a $154 billion package yesterday “aimed at stimulating the labor market with a combination of infrastructure projects, aid to states and funding for several safety-net programs.” No Republicans voted for the plan, which passed with a 217-212 vote. The Senate won’t take up the legislation until next year.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today proposed that “major economies including the U.S. come up with $100 billion a year over the next decade for developing nations to fight climate change.” She also reiterated that there “should be no doubt about the commitment of the United States to reach a successful agreement in Copenhagen.”

Following a lawsuit by the Electronic Freedom Foundation, the Justice Department has released documents showing that it improperly collected information on Americans who were no threat to national security in a series of reports. The Department of Justice has ordered the reports to be destroyed and has ordered the author to undergo remedial training.

In an 8 to 1 vote yesterday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted in favor of “legislation extending employee benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.” The bill will “place partners of same-sex federal employees on the same footing as spouses when it comes to benefits” such as including health insurance, retirement and disability plans, and workers’ compensation.

And finally: Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani has some advice for Tiger Woods: “Hang in there.”

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