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ThinkFast: January 12, 2009

By ThinkProgress on January 12, 2009 at 9:00 am

"ThinkFast: January 12, 2009"

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President Bush has “presided over the weakest eight-year span for the U.S. economy in decades. … The number of jobs in the nation increased by about 2 percent during Bush’s tenure, the most tepid growth over any eight-year span since data collection began seven decades ago.” Additionally, Americans’ incomes grew “more slowly than in any presidency since the 1960s, other than that of Bush’s father.”

It does look like a great eight years, aside from the last quarter, unfortunately,” said Ed Lazear, chairman of Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. “In the long term, things look good. The reason things look good is this economy will rebound, and it will rebound strongly.”

Roll Call reports that some top business lobbyists are privately grumbling “that they lack the kind of access they had at the beginning of the Bush administration and wonder if their agendas are being taken seriously.”

Barack Obama and congressional leaders “plan to move soon to block the estate tax from disappearing in 2010. … In making their case for the restoration, Democrats contend that such a large additional tax break for the rich shouldn’t go into force halfway through Mr. Obama’s proposed economic-recovery package.”

President Bush will hold his final White House press conference this morning at 9:15 am. “The President will make a brief opening statement, commenting on the important role the White House press corps has in covering presidents and the White House, and then will take questions,” spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

Prince Harry has apologized after video surfaced of him referring to a fellow soldier as “our little Paki friend” and saying another soldier wearing a head cloth made him “look like a raghead.”

In a surprise visit to a “dangerous Taliban-stronghold area of Afghanistan” yesterday, Vice President-elect Biden promised U.S. support for that country’s “struggle against terrorism, drugs and corruption.” Biden explained, “I am very interested in what becomes of this region, because it affects us all.”

In a new report, the GAO documents a list of “13 urgent issues requiring the attention of Barack Obama and the 111th Congress during the first year of the new administration.” The GAO put improving the image of the U.S. abroad at number 5 on the list, writing that it is “more critical than ever” that the U.S. do so.

Human Rights Watch said yesterday that “Israel’s military has fired artillery shells with the incendiary agent white phosphorus into Gaza and a doctor there said the chemical was suspected in the case of 10 burn victims who had skin peeling off their faces and bodies.” An Israeli military spokeswoman refused to comment on the charge, saying only that the army was acting “in accordance with international law.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) won a procedural vote yesterday in “an unusual Sunday session to advance a big package of public lands bills being held up by Republican Tom Coburn.” The 66-12 vote to take up the bill, which sets aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as wilderness, “is the latest episode in a long-running feud between Reid and Coburn.”

Federal prosecutions of immigration crimes nearly doubled” to reach “more than 70,000 immigration cases in the 2008 fiscal year,” in a move that has “siphoned resources from other crimes” and that some prosecutors call “demoralizing.” Mark Agrast, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told the New York Times that “[p]rosecutorial priorities are expected to change after President-elect Barack Obama takes office.”

And finally: After eight years of loyalty, Deputy Assistant to the President Gordon Johndroe is finally breaking his silence: he doesn’t really like President Bush’s beloved dog, Barney. “I think America has been shielded from Barney somewhat,” he said. “You know Barney is fickle.” According to ABC News, Johndroe “has kept his feelings quiet, because of the president, who he says shows Barney unconditional love — whether he deserves it or not.” Last year, Karl Rove admitted that he thinks Barney — who recently bit a White House reporter — is a “lump.”

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