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ThinkFast: December 12, 2008

By ThinkProgress  

"ThinkFast: December 12, 2008"

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Republican senators blocked a $15 billion bailout to General Motors and Chrysler late last night, after insisting that autoworkers accept “steep cuts in pay and benefits” next year. Reacting to the news, “[s]tocks tumbled around the world and the dollar slumped…threatening to deepen the global recession.”

At a closed-door GOP lunch Wednesday, Vice President Cheney reportedly warned that it will be “Herbert Hoover” time if an auto bailout failed to pass, according to a senator familiar with the remarks. “A Cheney spokeswoman would neither confirm nor deny the vice president’s remarks.”

General Motors is hiring bankruptcy counsel “to prepare for a filing if Congress does not authorize $14 billion in emergency federal loans.” GM and Chrysler’s “only chance of survival” might hinge on the possibility that funds may be tapped from the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package.

The Swedish government is preparing a $3.5 billion bailout for Saab and Volvo. The plan consists of credit guarantees and rescue loans. “The government plan will now be presented to parliament for approval.”

Controversial NASA Administrator Michael Griffin is denying reports that he is muzzling employees from speaking openly and honestly with President-elect Obama’s agency review team. “This report, largely supported by anonymous sources and hearsay, is simply wrong,” Griffin wrote in an e-mail to NASA employees.

Yesterday, the Bush administration finalized rules that will accelerate drilling projects and power plant construction. The Interior Department eliminated35-year-old regulations in the Endangered Species Act that required an independent scientific review of proposed federal projects to determine whether they imperil protected plants and animals.”

The Bush administration issued new rules yesterday for the H-2A guest worker program that “it said would lessen the bureaucratic burden on employers seeking to hire foreign farm workers.” Critics of the rule change argued that that changes would “depress wages and working conditions.”

More Americans “believe in the devil, hell and angels” than believe in evolution, a new Harris poll finds. 47 percent of Americans said they believe in evolution, while 40 percent said they believe in “creationism.” Additionally, 73 percent believe in heaven, and 59 percent believe they devil exists.

Senate Republicans, including Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Jon Kyl (R-AZ), are trying delay confirmation hearings for Eric Holder. Yesterday on the Senate floor, Grassley said, “Public reports have just emerged that in 2004, the Governor of Illinois hired or sought to hire Mr. Holder.”

President-elect Obama plans to include billions of dollars of health care spending in his stimulus proposal, aiming to expand the State Children’s Health Program and extend COBRA benefits, among other provisions. Obama explained yesterday that the health care crisis “is part of the [economic] emergency” and thus demands immediate attention.

And finally: John McCain does his Blagojevich impersonation. McCain opened his Letterman appearance last night by joking: “I don’t want to talk about the BLEEPING campaign, understand? [Laughter] If you think I’m gonna go back to that BLEEPING situation, then – then BLEEP you.”

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