ThinkFast: July 6, 2009

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"ThinkFast: July 6, 2009"

Billy Tauzin

As part of a “record-breaking influence campaign,” the nation’s “largest insurers, hospitals and medical groups have hired more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress” to lobby Capitol Hill “in hopes of influencing their old bosses and colleagues” on health care legislation. The industry is “spending more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying in the current fight.”

The Senate may not be able to realize its “hopes of approving health care reform before adjourning for the August recess,” making it unlikely that it can meet Obama’s request to have a “bill on his desk by Oct. 15.” Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) said his goal is “to complete the tricky merger of the HELP and Finance Committee bills, with the floor fracas over a final bill put off until after Labor Day.”

Senate Finance Committee member Charles Schumer (D-NY) said that there will absolutely be a public option in Congress’ health care legislation. “Make no mistake about it, the president is for this strongly,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation yesterday. “There will be a public option in the final bill.”

Yesterday on Fox, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) claimed the Recovery Act has not produced a single contract in Ohio. Media Matters debunks the claim, noting the Ohio Department of Transportation has “awarded more than $83.9 million in contracts for work on 52 projects.”

In a sharp contrast from Vice President Joe Biden’s comments yesterday that the U.S. will not stand in the way of a possible Israeli strike on Iran, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen also said yesterday that he has “for some time been concerned about any strike on Iran.” “I worry that it would be very destabilizing not just in and of itself, but the unintended consequences of a strike like that,” he said. 

Though conservatives like to complain about President Obama’s relationship with the news media, Politico reports that “there’s an equal and opposite reaction going on in the world of conservative media.” Frustration with Obama “is fueling listener intensity and book-buying binges at the same time it gives a boost to the careers of conservative figures” like Mark Levin and Glenn Beck.

President Obama arrived in Moscow today for “a summit with Russian leaders aimed at reaching an agreement to cut stockpiles of nuclear warheads.” When Obama met Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in London in April, the two “agreed to start negotiations for a new treaty to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.”

Lt. Gov Sean Parnell (R-AK) said yesterday that “Gov. Sarah Palin’s decision to resign was largely prompted by the personal legal costs of the ethics investigations against her.” “[W]hat I heard from the governor really had to do with…the concern she had for the cost of all the ethics investigations…with respect to her inability to just move forward Alaska’s agenda,” Parnell said.

Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will commence hearings to discuss the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. Backers of Sotomayor have been “organizing local rallies and other events” to tout her credentials. Republicans have been “focusing their attacks on her work” with a Puerto Rican civil rights organization in the 1980s.

And finally: America wasn’t the only one marking a birthday on July 4; Malia Obama was also spending the day celebrating. In a video message, President Obama told the crowd gathered on the National Mall that Malia was “just thrilled that you are all here. When she was young, I used to say that all these fireworks were for her. I’m not sure she buys that [now].” The Obamas reportedly celebrated Malia’s 11th birthday at Camp David, “prior to the official day.”

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