ThinkFast: January 13, 2009


Bowing to widespread Democratic skepticism, President-elect Barack Obama will drop his bid” to offer a $3,000-per-job business tax credit in his stimulus proposal. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) had called the tax cuts an ineffective “trickle-down” measure, and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said he’d prefer to invest in infrastructure and energy, the “kinds of things that much more directly, much more rapidly and much more certainly create a real job.”

According to the UN, “[g]rowing numbers of Palestinians are fleeing their homes for makeshift shelters in schools, office buildings and a park as the Israeli Army continues to press its military campaign deeper into Gaza City.” Nearly 30,000 people are living in UN-sponsored schools and 60,000 have fled to the houses of relatives.

A Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington report has found that “17 of 24 former Bush Cabinet members have taken positions with at least 119 companies, including 65 firms that lobby the government and 40 that lobby the agencies they headed.” The group’s executive director said the report shows these officials “made a mint on the backs of American taxpayers.”

Congress plans to quickly pass a bill to “provide health insurance to millions of low-income children” through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The bill will also “restore health insurance benefits to legal immigrants under 21.” Bush vetoed similar legislation last year denying health coverage to four million children.

In her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning, Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton will urge making diplomacy “the vanguard of foreign policy.” She will promise to “renew America’s leadership through diplomacy that enhances our security, advances our interests, and reflects our values.”

The Wall Street journal reports that CEO firings are on the rise. “A deepening labor market downturn that cost 524,000 Americans their jobs last month is even swelling the jobless rate for chief executives.”

Should he be confirmed, Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner plans to “bring along as a counselor Gene B. Sperling,” who will offer advice on “issues related to the annual budget, taxes and the domestic entitlement programs.” Sperling served on and then directed the National Economic Counsel during the Clinton administration and is now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Obama has reportedly chosen Julius Genachowski to head the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The top issues facing Genachowski — a technology executive and former FCC official — are the expansion of Internet access, improving emergency wireless communications, and the switchover to digital television.

Obama has also chosen Bill Corr, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, to be Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services. Corr was previously chief of staff for HHS Secretary Donna Shalala and chief counsel and policy director for former senator Tom Daschle.

And finally: On Friday, CIA director Michael Hayden dropped by “Journopalooza,” an “all-out musical assault at the National Press Club” between four D.C. bands composed of journalists. Participants included the Washington Independent’s Spencer Ackerman, Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles, and McClatchy’s Jonathan Landay. When asked if he would be doing any dancing, Hayden told one reporter, “If you were to see me dance, you would say freedom of expression isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

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