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ThinkFast: October 14, 2008

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"ThinkFast: October 14, 2008"

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Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL) – who replaced former congressman Mark Foley (R) – “is facing scandalous allegations of his own.” ABC News reports Mahoney paid $121,000 to “a former mistress who worked on his staff and was threatening to sue him.” He has called on the House ethics committee to investigate his own behavior.

President Bush announced this morning that the Treasury Department will “invest up to $250 billion in banks, receiving an equity stake in return.” Under the proposal, which is similar to those initiated by European governments on Monday, the U.S. will “also guarantee new debt issued by banks for three years” in order to encourage banks to resume lending to one another and to customers.

A record 91 percent of Americans are “dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States,” according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll. Another 84 percent of those polled “predict the economy is going to get worse.” Thirty-one percent are confident that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “would be able to turn things around,” compared to 44 percent who express confidence in Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al Hashimi said “it’s questionable whether the U.S. will have a legitimate right to maintain its troops in Iraq” if no security agreement is reached before the UN mandate expires on Dec. 31. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also said Saturday that absent an agreement or UN mandate renewal, “the U.S. forces will be confined to their bases and have to withdraw from Iraq.”

21 days to go: John McCain plans to make a midday speech at Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania, while Sarah Palin will make a campaign stop in Scranton. Barack Obama is in Toledo preparing for tomorrow night’s debate, and Joe Biden will hold rallies in eastern Ohio.

Aaron Zelinsky writes that the “secret memo” that controls the rules of presidential debates should be released. “The memorandum of understanding is a vital part of the 2008 election and the democratic process. However, both campaigns have refused to divulge the memorandum’s contents. Such a stance is antithetical to the fundamental American notion of transparency in government.”

House Democrats are contemplating a huge infusion of public cash — as much as $300 billion — to stoke economic growth by creating public jobs and padding the wallets of struggling consumers.” The spending package “would be nearly twice as big as the stimulus measure President Bush signed in February.”

During a speech in Singapore today, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker said, “The economy, I believe, is in recession.” He added, “The first priority is to stabilize the financial system. It is necessary even though the cost involved is heavy government intrusion in markets that should be private.”

Despite conservatives claiming otherwise, federal records show that the subprime lending boom which led to the current financial crisis was initiated by “the private sector, not the government or government-backed companies” like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The subprime lending crisis was enhanced “by a dramatic weakening of underwriting standards for U.S. subprime mortgages” a federal report found Friday.

And finally: In May, Sgt. Gwen Beberg and another soldier rescued a puppy from a burning pile of trash in Iraq. Beberg has been taking care of the dog, Ratchet, ever since, but the Army won’t let her take him home with her when she returns to the United States next month. More than 10,000 people have now “signed an online petition urging the Army to let an Iraqi puppy come home,” and Beberg’s congressman, Keith Ellison (D-MN), has written to the Army. Berberg fears that if Ratchet is left in Iraq, he could be killed.

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