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ThinkFast: February 3, 2009

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"ThinkFast: February 3, 2009"

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A new USA Today/Gallup polls finds that “Americans overwhelmingly want Congress to pass an economic stimulus bill.” Two-thirds say the package will boost the economy but regarding personal finances, half “say it either would have no effect or even make things worse.” Nevertheless, only 17 percent say “Congress should reject a stimulus bill altogether.”

Karl Rove will cooperate with a federal criminal probe of the U.S. attorney firings being led by Nora Dannehy, the Acting U.S. Attorney for Connecticut. Rove has also spoken to investigators in an internal DOJ investigation regarding the prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman.

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Eric Holder as the nation’s first African American attorney general by a vote of 75 to 21, “opening a new chapter for a Justice Department that had suffered under allegations of improper political influence and policy disputes over and harsh interrogation practices.”

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) said yesterday after meeting with Tom Daschle that he was “satisfied that Daschle’s failure to pay more than $120,000 in back taxes wasn’t intentional and he would vote in favor of the nomination at next week’s hearing.” Baucus said Daschle’s tax issues didn’t make him “less qualified” to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

President Obama is mounting a media offensive to promote passage of his $800 billion-plus economic recovery plan. He will sit for 10 minute interviews with ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and CNN anchors today between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m.

On Capitol Hill today, thousands of union members will deliver 1.5 million signatures in support of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it much easier for workers to unionize. The workers “are expected to be joined by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA),” who are both prominent supporters of the legislation.

The share of businesses with fewer than 10 workers that offer health benefits has declined by 16 percent since 2001 and “the economic downturn has only accelerated the pressure on small-business owners” to cut back on their employee health coverage. Rising premiums have prompted more than half of small businesses to make it more difficult for their employees to afford coverage, surveys say.

In a “symbolic” gesture to cooperate with Republicans, Senate Democrats have agreed to drop “two controversial spending programs in the Senate economic stimulus bill: $75 million dollars for anti-smoking programs, and $400 million for STD and HIV prevention.” As ThinkProgress has reported, despite right-wing objections, STD prevention funding could ultimately save the country billions.

In the last six months of 2008, eight companies that would benefit from the $700 billion bank bailout bill “spent roughly $366,000 on events and charities connected to members of Congress.” For example, the conservative Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute “will see its annual gala in May 2009 partly sponsored by a TARP recipient” that has received $935 million in Treasury funds so far.

First Lady Michelle Obama is “crafting a policy-driven agenda that will bring working-family issues into the White House.” A former speech writer for Nancy Reagan predicted, “This is not going to be a first lady focused on sleeveless designer dresses and puppy names but on serious and complex issues.”

And Finally: Looking for a souvenir commemorating one of the most famous personalities of the 2008 election? Patriot Portrait Collectibles of Indignico Inc. has your answer: an “authentic Mexican Black Velvet Painting” of Joe the Plumber. The portrait is titled “The Last of The Undecideds,” with the subheading, “A Republican Party Deep Thinker.” It’s yours for just $250.

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