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ThinkFast: March 24, 2009

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"ThinkFast: March 24, 2009"

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In an op-ed that was published in 31 newspapers around the world today, President Obama writes to the global community: “Our leadership is grounded in a simple premise: We will act boldly to lift the American economy out of crisis and reform our regulatory structure, and these actions will be strengthened by complementary action abroad.”

Yesterday, Larry Summers said he was “surprised” by Paul Krugman’s criticisms of the administration’s bank rescue plan, adding, “He didn’t seem to recognize that this is one component of the plan.” Today, Krugman responds, saying the administration is engaging in “market-worship.” He adds, “it’s just politics.”

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says “nine of the top 10 bonus recipients” at AIG will give their bonuses back and “that of the top 20 recipients in the United States, 15 had returned their payments in full.” There has also been “a handful of senior-level resignations” at the firm, according to an AIG spokesperson.

House Republicans are “now pinning the economic recession squarely on the shoulders of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).” In an e-mail blast yesterday, Rep. David Camp (R-MI) declared “We must work together to end the ‘Pelosi Recession.’” Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami replied that the GOP “can’t seem to remember that they were actually the ones responsible for passing the Bush economic agenda.”

The liberal groups Campaign for America’s Future and USAction are launching a media campaign against Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) today for his vocal opposition to President Obama’s $3.7 trillion budget proposal. “We just want them to take a stance. Either they are for him or against him,” said USAction spokeswoman CeCe Grant. “We’re just basically saying, ‘What side are you on?’”

In a step toward confronting global warming, the EPA’s new leadership “submitted a finding that will force the White House to decide whether to limit greenhouse gas emissions” under the Clean Air Act. Reversing Bush administration policy, the EPA concluded that “such emissions are pollutants that endanger the public’s health and welfare” a decision that “could trigger a broad regulatory process.”

American workers “are getting squeezed like no other group by private health insurance premiums that are rising much faster than their wages.” With nearly all retirees and about 90 percent of children covered, a new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that “workers now are at significantly higher risk of being uninsured than in the 1990s.”

Yesterday, a federal judge ordered the Food and Drug Administration “to make Plan B available to 17-year-olds within 30 days and to review whether to make the emergency contraceptive available to all ages without a doctor’s order.” Currently, girls younger than 18 need a prescription.

Last Friday, the Obama administration released a directive stating that lobbyists “cannot meet or speak with executive branch officials regarding specific stimulus projects or applications.” The head of the American League of Lobbyists is now saying the rule “smacks of segregation, discrimination” and is vowing to “push back” against the rule. The group is keeping “all options open, including litigation.”

And finally: The Austin-American Statesman says that state Rep. Gary Elkins (R) may not win points for preparedness, but he does get some for honesty. Last week at a House Committee on Human Services hearing, Elkins and other members were considering bills related to Medicaid and children’s health insurance. “Three hours into the hearing, Elkins asked: ‘What’s Medicaid? … I know I hear it — I really don’t know what it is. I know that’s a big shock to everybody here in the audience, OK.’” The Statesman points out that Medicaid comprises a quarter of the state’s budget.

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