ThinkFast: January 14, 2009


Sixty-two percent of voters “say their confidence in Washington has decreased over the past 12 months,” according to a new Public Strategies/Politico poll. A plurality of voters, however, want the government to take action on the economy with 45 percent naming an economic stimulus package as an issue the government should make a top priority.

President Bush will leave office with a 34 percent job approval rating, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll. The improved rating, which is “a shade better than what Bush has received for most of the past year,” is mainly due to Republicans, whose “approval of him rose from 67% in mid-December to 75% in the current poll.”

Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner “didn’t pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for several years while he worked for the International Monetary Fund, and he employed an immigrant housekeeper who briefly lacked proper work papers.” The revelations could delay consideration of Geithner’s nomination as Sens. Jim Bunning (R-KY) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) “blocked a request to proceed with his confirmation hearing Friday.”

A DoJ inspector general report released yesterday found that Bradley Schlozman, a former Justice official “entrusted with enforcing civil rights laws,” had refused to hire lawyers whom he labeled as “commies” and transferred another attorney for allegedly writing in “ebonics” and benefiting from “an affirmative action thing.” The report concluded that he had violated civil service laws and lied to Congress.

A new Marine Corps report has found that “[m]ore active-duty Marines committed suicide last year than any year since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.” The suicide rate, however, “remained virtually unchanged because the Marine Corps is increasing in size.” Nearly all of the 41 suicides were under 24 and two-thirds had deployed overseas.

“Glitches” at Veterans Affairs (VA) health centers have resulted in patients who were given “incorrect doses of drugs, had needed treatments delayed and may have been exposed to other medical errors due to software glitches that showed faulty displays of their electronic health records.” The problems began in August and lasted until last month, but the VA didn’t immediately disclose the problem to patients.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) told the Washington Times that the Pentagon is “looking at several military bases in the U.S. as possible sites to hold terrorist suspects now at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including Camp Pendleton in San Diego and Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.”

A new report from the Center for Democracy in the Americas argues that Obama should engage Cuba. “The policy experts also said small U.S. steps now toward lifting restrictions could ease open Cuban society and polish America’s tarnished image in Latin America.” Read the full report here.

Obama’s nominee to lead the Dept. of Transportation, Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL) “sponsored $60 million in earmarks last year, steering at least $9 million in federal money to campaign donors.” LaHood, who opposes earmark reform, ranks roughly among the top 10 percent in the House for earmark sponsorship in 2008.

And finally: Get a behind-the-scenes look at the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)…with a twist. The Hill also has a piece explaining the video here.

Sign up here to receive our daily e-newsletter, The Progress Report.