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ThinkFast: March 30, 2009

By ThinkProgress on March 30, 2009 at 9:00 am

"ThinkFast: March 30, 2009"

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The Obama administration will force GM head Rick Wagoner to resign and has “rejected as untenable the business plans” that GM and Chrysler submitted to restructure their companies. Wagoner, who oversaw more than $73 billion in losses since 2005, will not leave immediately because, if he does, “he is entitled to a multimillion-dollar pension that the government does not want to pay.”

“By the time President Barack Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget proposal comes up for a vote in the Senate later this week, the high-pitched opposition from Democratic moderates is expected to give way to a chorus of support.” The hesitation to oppose a popular president, combined with Sen. Kent Conrad’s (D-ND) changes that made the budget “more palatable” to the centrists, have left Democratic leaders confident they will receive unified support for the budget.

Fewer than 800 homeowners in the North Dakota and Minnesota communities most threatened” by an overflowing Red River “hold insurance policies covering flood damage despite a decade-long push by state and federal officials to get people signed up,” the AP reports. The residents without insurance are now “exposed to huge losses, and they can’t count on a government bailout” to help them.

Last week, top Democrats in the House fired off a letter to President Obama calling on him to take “urgent action” to stop Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon. Earlier this month, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair said Iran has not re-started its nuclear weapons program.

Since Fidel Castro has stepped aside as Cuba’s leader, “there is new momentum in Washington for eliminating the ban on most U.S. travel” there and “for reexamining the severe limitations on U.S.-Cuban economic exchanges.” A bi-partisan group of Senators, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Human Rights Watch will reportedly “rally around a potentially historic bill to lift the travel ban” this week on Capitol Hill.

Just after Democrats won control of Congress in 2006, a top AIG executive “implored company executives and their spouses” to donate to Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-CT) re-election campaign. In an e-mail, the executive noted the Dodd was, at the time, “next in line” to be chairman of the Senate Banking committee and would “have the opportunity to set the committee’s agenda.”

President Obama yesterday defended his administration’s drone strikes in Pakistan. “If we have a high-value target within our sights — after consulting with Pakistan, we’re going after them,” he said. “But our main thrust has to be to help Pakistan defeat these extremists.” Obama also ruled out U.S. troop raids in Pakistan.

A new and potentially worrisome fight for power and control has broken out in Baghdad as the United States prepares to pull combat troops out of Iraq next year.” Over the weekend, Iraqi security forces and U.S.-backed Sunni fighters, who are both “cornerstones in the American strategy to bring stability,” clashed in the Iraqi capital, raising concerns that many of the Sunni fighters could return the insurgency.

USA Today reports that “[t]he nation’s immigration courts are now so clogged that nearly 90,000 people accused of being in the United States illegally waited at least two years for a judge to decide whether they must leave. The cases “are emblematic of delays in the little-known court system that lawyers and lawmakers say is on the verge of being overwhelmed.”

And finally: RNC Chairman Michael Steele thinks President Obama “has a little thing” about him. On CNN this weekend, Steele said he is “done” talking to the White House, saying he thinks Obama “has got a little thing about me, that I haven’t quite figured out what that is.” When asked if he was jealous of Obama, Steele was incredulous: “What would I be jealous of?” adding, “I’m chairman of the RNC, so, what’s your point? We both have leadership responsibilities and roles. I’m not equating the two. My point is: you are on your track. I’m on my track. You do your thing. I do my thing.”

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