ThinkFast: March 23, 2009


Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will unveil a three-pronged program today for fixing the financial crisis, which “envisions the creation of a series of public-private investments to soak up $500 billion, and maybe as much as $1 trillion, in troubled loans and securities at the heart of the financial crisis.” In a WSJ op-ed, Geithner writes that he is confident that “these policies will work.”

Paul Krugman writes today that, if reports leaked about Geithner’s bank rescue plan are correct, then he “has persuaded President Obama to recycle Bush administration policy — specifically, the ‘cash for trash’ plan proposed, then abandoned, six months ago by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.” “This is more than disappointing. In fact, it fills me with a sense of despair,” he said.

Foreign firms and governments are increasing their lobbying efforts in Washington and state capitals, hoping to sell “their expertise in clean energy, high-speed transit and other technologies that under gird key aspects of President Obama’s stimulus efforts.” These firms, however, are “proceeding cautiously for fear of stoking nationalistic objections from U.S. lawmakers and their constituents.”

Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean has been named a regular CNBC commentator. He co-hosted CNBC’s “Sqawk Box” this morning.

In an interview with 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft, President Obama said, “There’s got to be an exit strategy” out of Afghanistan. Saying what was needed “is a comprehensive strategy,” Obama said, “There’s go to be a sense that this is not perpetual drift.”

Also in the interview, Obama “expressed doubt about the constitutionality of a House bill that would impose heavy new taxes on certain Wall Street bonuses, clouding the measure’s future.” “[Y]ou don’t want to be passing laws that are just targeting a handful of individuals,” Obama said. “I think you certainly don’t want to use the tax code to punish people.”

On Friday, “[t]wo dozen black lawmakers angrily stalked out of the Georgia House…amid assertions that a decision by white Republican leaders to delay passage of a resolution honoring President Obama had racist overtones.” Republican lawmakers objected to the resolution’s wording which said Obama has an “unimpeachable reputation for integrity, vision and passion for public service.”

President Obama will speak about the energy portion of his budget at the White House today, highlighting research and development in clean energy. Aides to Obama say that while the administration will work with Congress on the budget, “energy independence is not subject to wheeling and dealing.”

The AP writes that under Hillary Clinton, the State Department is “embracing new media.” In less than three months, “Clinton’s Web efforts already have outpaced those of her predecessors,” including a revamped website and blog, an “ask the Secretary” column, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel.

And finally: For the record, Michelle Obama is not pregnant. Lately, there have been rumors swirling on the Internet that there may soon be another Obama running around the White House. But in a new interview for O Magazine, Oprah says to the First Lady, “Well, you look better than ever – despite the rumors that you’ve got a baby bump.” Laughing, Obama replies, “I know — I was like, ‘Baby bump? As hard as I work on my abs?!‘” She adds that she’s not pregnant and “not planning on it.”

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