ThinkFast: March 25, 2009

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"ThinkFast: March 25, 2009"

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The Obama administration “appears to be backing away from the phrase ‘global war on terror,’ a signature rhetorical legacy of its predecessor.” A Pentagon memo emailed this week said that the term “Overseas Contingency Operation” should be used instead. Senior administration officials have been using the term “in a war context for roughly a month before the e-mail was sent.”

The White House is “Open for Questions.” Americans can submit economy-focused questions to the White House website — and vote others’ questions up or down — and President Obama will answer them during a web townhall tomorrow. View the more than 10,000 questions that have already been submitted, or ask your own, here.

Sens. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Tom Carper (D-DE), who recently created a coalition of moderate Democratsrespond to their progressive critics in an op-ed. “We understand the Beltway impulse to emphasize conflict and the blogosphere’s concern that Democrats stick together,” they write. “Without Democratic moderates…the president’s agenda could well be filibustered into oblivion.”

In a report to be released today, the Government Accountability Office finds that the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division is failing to properly enforce minimum wage and other labor laws, “leaving millions of workers vulnerable.” In fact, the division “mishandled 9 of the 10 cases brought by a team of undercover agents posing as aggrieved workers.”

The Senate debated a bill yesterday that would wipe out credit card debt for people in bankruptcy. The bill is “aimed at punishing credit card companies that raise their interest rates to a high level and at giving consumers who may be on the verge of bankruptcy greater leverage to negotiate better deals with those lenders.”

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) is crafting a budget that will leave a deficit of “$1.2 trillion next year, compared with $1.4 trillion under Obama’s policies.” Conrad “said he would leave out new spending for Obama’s proposed expansion of health care coverage…as well as the president’s proposal to make permanent an $800 tax credit for working families.”

Obama will go to Capitol Hill today to meet with Senate Democrats about his proposed budget and “his efforts to stabilize the financial markets and his multipronged approach to the problem.” Roll Call reports that Obama plans to “devote a substantial amount of time to answering Senators’ questions.”

In an attempt to prevent a “a spillover of drug-related violence from Mexico,” the Obama administration said yesterday that it would be sending “360 agents would be sent to the Border Patrol and to Immigration and Customs Enforcement units” at the border. Further, 100 agents will be sent to augment ATF units. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano called it the “first wave of things that will be happening.”

And finally: Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) isn’t a big fan of the congressional gym. The “chain-smoking” congressman told Fox News on Monday that he doesn’t “go there very much because A, they don’t have ashtrays. … And B, the one time I was there, my first trip, someone sort of was talc-ing themselves, and offered their hand and I just said, ‘Hey, we’re cool, dude.’” McCotter didn’t reveal the name of the senator.

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