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ThinkFast: December 9, 2008

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"ThinkFast: December 9, 2008"

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Yesterday morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain was suggesting to his company’s board that he deserved a $10 million bonus for his performance in 2008. But by yesterday afternoon, Thain had dropped his request after New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo called it “nothing less than shocking.”

The White House and Congressional Democrats moved closer to a deal “to rush $15 billion in emergency loans” to the Big Three car makers. “Democrats bent to the will of the president on several” provisions. The White House is still pushing Democrats to drop their demand that automakers “pull out of lawsuits against states seeking to enforce tougher tailpipe-emissions standards.”

Internal Freddie Mac documents reveal that “senior executives at the company were warned years ago that they were offering mortgages that could pose dangers to the firm” and generate more risky loans throughout the industry. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has the documents, is holding a hearing today to discuss them.

As more of the unemployed and uninsured “turn to the nation’s emergency rooms as a medical last resort, doctors warn that the centers — many already overburdened — could have even more trouble handling the heart attacks, broken bones and other traumas that define their core mission.”

79 percent: The share of Americans who approve of President-elect Barack Obama’s performance during the transition, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. Seventy-nine percent also think Obama “will do a good job as president,” compared to 71 percent who disapprove of the job President Bush is doing.

A new CBS News polls finds that 45 percent of Americans approve of a government bailout of U.S. automakers, while 44 percent disapprove. Over two-thirds of Americans, however, say that “if taxpayers do help automakers, the government should have a say in how the companies are managed.”

Yesterday, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) met with workers who are staging a sit-in at a Chicago window-making plant after they were only laid-off with only three days warning and without the pay owed to them. The governor said that the state would be suspending business with Bank of America, which cut off the company’s credit line and refused to allow payment to the workers.

Big business is lining up behind Obama’s stimulus plan to invest in infrastructure projects. “[L]obbyists from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) are asking lawmakers and Obama’s transition team to funnel federal funds to ‘shovel-ready’ projects as the best way to stimulate the flagging economy.”

The Pulitzer Prize is going digital, announcing Monday that the journalism award is expanding to include online-only publications. The move reflects “our willingness to adapt to the remarkable growth of online journalism,” said Pulitzer Administrator Sig Gissler.

Though the Pentagon “was aware of the threat posed by mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs)” and ” of the availability of mine resistant vehicles [MRAPs] years before insurgent actions began in Iraq in 2003,” it did little to develop such vehicles, the Pentagon Inspector General reports. Marine officials “did not develop a course of action for the (request) [or] attempt to obtain funding for” MRAPs.

And finally: Yesterday, President Bush let loose and danced during the Children’s Holiday Reception and Performance at the White House. Watch his performance here.

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