ThinkFast: July 1, 2009

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"ThinkFast: July 1, 2009"

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75 percent of Americans who have been “pushed into personal bankruptcy by medical problems actually had insurance when they got sick or were injured.” Many experts say that fixing the health care system won’t mean “simply giving everyone an insurance card.” Too many Americans “already have coverage so meager that a medical crisis means financial calamity.”

The pharmaceutical lobby group PhRMA and the consumer health care advocate group Families USA are launching today a “multimillion-dollar national television advertising campaign to urge lawmakers to pass quality, affordable health care reform.” Watch the ads here.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is looking at way to make the law prohibiting gays from serving openly in the armed forces “more humane” until Congress eventually repeals it. “One of the things we’re looking at is, is there flexibility in how we apply this law?” Gates said.

Chief Justice John Roberts succeeded in leading the Supreme Court on a “patient and steady move to the right” this term. While the court took “mainly incremental steps in major cases,” Roberts’ “fingerprints were on all of them, and he left clues that the court is only one decision away from fundamental change in many areas of the law.”

National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones told U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan last week that the Obama administration wants to focus on carrying out a strategy for “increased economic development, improved governance and participation by the Afghan military and civilians in the conflict.” “The piece of the strategy that has to work in the next year is economic development,” Jones told Bob Woodward.

The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday “granted California the right to enforce a 2002 law that mandates deep cuts to automotive greenhouse-gas emissions through 2016.” The move “stands to give California regulators the power to drive national fuel-efficiency standards in the future.” The new standards “effectively call for average vehicle fuel efficiency to exceed 35 mpg by 2016, up from roughly 25 mpg today.” 

International oil companies “responded to the [Iraq’s] first oil auction in more than 30 years with grumbles and just one deal.” Under the deal, Iraq’s oil ministry will pay BP $2.00 per barrel it produces. Other companies, including Exxon and Chevron requested higher rates “than what the oil ministry was willing to pay.”

The Washington Times reports that House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) reversed his opposition to a controversial hazardous waste project that his wife was involved with. Conyers wrote a letter in July 2007 “in support of permit transfers for a hazardous waste injection well project in the city of Romulus, Mich., which was operated by a company with ties to Mrs. Conyers.”

Two weeks after Sen. Daniel Inouye’s (D-HI) staff contacted federal regulators, the Hawaii-based bank, Central Pacific Financial, announced it would receive $135 million from the Treasury Department. The bank holds the bulk of Inouye’s personal wealth. “Many lawmakers have worked to help home-state banks get federal money. … But the Inouye inquiry stands apart because of the senator’s ties to Central Pacific.”

And finally: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is confident that she could beat President Obama in a long-distance run. “I betcha I’d have more endurance,” Palin remarks in a new interview with “Runner’s World.” “My one claim to fame in my own little internal running circle is a sub-four marathon.” She also reveals that “sweat is my sanity” and “I feel so crappy if I go more than a few days without running. I have to run.”

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