ThinkFast: October 6, 2008


“John McCain would pay for his health plan with major reductions to Medicare and Medicaid, a top aide said,” a move that could result in cuts of $1.3 trillion over 10 years to the programs. McCain “has said little about the proposed cuts, but they are needed to keep his health-care plan ‘budget neutral,’ as he has promised.

Lobbyists are angling to play a greater role as Treasury implements the bailout and Congress debates “how best to strengthen financial market oversight,” The Hill reports. Several law and lobbying firms “announced the creation of financial services task forces that they are marketing to clients and potential clients as multi-disciplinary, one-stop shops for legislative, regulatory and legal advice.”

Over the weekend, both Bill Maher’s film “Religulous” and David Zucker’s right-wing “An American Carol” opened up at the box office. Although “An American Carol” was playing on three times as many screens as “Religulous,” three times as many people went to see Maher’s film, and box office receipts were roughly the same.

The Supreme Court opens a new term today, with one of the first orders of business hearing arguments about limiting lawsuits against tobacco companies. The “business-friendly” Court has so far agreed to hear 41 cases for the 2008-2009 term, with “at least 16 of these as business cases.”

On the trail today: Barack Obama will be in Asheville, NC. John McCain campaigns in Albuquerque, NM, and Sarah Palin hosts a fundraiser in Naples, FL. Due to the death of his mother-in-law, Joe Biden will be off the campaign trail until at least Tuesday.

A “record-breaking season for voter registration drives” ends today with Democrats adding over 800,000 voters to the rolls and Republicans losing 300,000 “in eight of the most tightly fought states in the presidential race: Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and New Hampshire.”

Seven aides to Sarah Palin “will now honor subpoenas to testify in the legislative investigation of the Troopergate affair.” The aides had previously challenged the summons but “[a]fter a judge rejected the challenge last week, they decided to testify, Alaska Atty. Gen. Talis J. Colberg said Sunday.”

House Republicans are defending deregulation in a new report, as the House Oversight Committee prepares to examine the causes of the financial crisis. “In the midst of the most serious financial crisis in a generation, some claim that deregulation is entirely to blame,” the report says. “This is simply not true.”

“Cowed by the financial crisis, American consumers are pulling back on their spending, all but guaranteeing that the economic situation will get worse before it gets better. … When the final tally is in, consumer spending for the quarter just ended will almost certainly shrink, the first quarterly decline in nearly two decades.”

Stocks tumbled in Europe and Asia today, a day after Germany and Belgium were “left scrambling to prevent the collapse of two lenders.” “Trading on banking shares were halted in Iceland and Russia suspended both of its exchanges after indexes fell more than 14 percent.”

And finally: Although Congress had been working around the clock on bailout legislation, “some Senators clearly tried to sneak in some fun amid all the pressures of meetings, briefings and cable news appearances.” Roll Call reports that Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) “was spotted stocking up on celebratory libations” at a Capitol Hill bar, and on Thursday morning, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) managed to get in some golfing.

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