ThinkFast: July 21, 2009

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"ThinkFast: July 21, 2009"

President Obama holds a meeting at the White House

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President Obama has invited a small group of conservative Blue Dog Democrats to the White House today in an effort to win their support on health care reform. “We’re just not there yet,” said Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN), who was invited to the meeting. “We’re getting there.”

Liberal activists are targeting Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) “as the lawmaker whose arm is most in need of twisting over health care reform.” “The Montana Democrat was the (unfortunate) winner of a contest sponsored by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, in which the groups allowed members to choose which senator to target in an ad campaign.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) tweets, “I support the pub[l]ic option on healthcare reform, but must make sure private market can compete. Working on that in the Senate.” (Claire’s updated tweet here.)

“The argument over whether spending $1.75 billion on seven additional F-22 jets makes good economic sense is coming to a head between Congress and the Obama administration.” The provision is scheduled for a vote this morning in the Senate. President Obama has said he would veto the defense bill if it contains this unnecessary spending.

A group of Senate Democrats is threatening to filibuster an amendment offered by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) “that would allow gun owners to carry concealed firearms into states with similar gun regulations.” “This amendment is a bridge too far, and could endanger the safety of millions of Americans,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said. “We will do everything we can to stop this poisonous amendment from being enacted.”

Yesterday, the Drudge Report claimed that millions of stimulus dollars are being wasted on pork products. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack immediately discredited the claim. “The purchases for sliced ham and other contracts — including mozzarella and other cheeses — were to provide soup kitchens and homeless shelters with food for the needy.” “This program will help reduce hunger of those hardest hit by the current economic recession,” insisted Vilsack.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and California legislative leaders reached an agreement Monday on a compromise to close the state’s $26 billion budget shortfall. The deal would cut $15 billion in spending while also taking funds from local governments. “[O]f the $15 billion in cuts, $9 billion would come from education, $1.3 billion from state-worker furloughs and $1.2 billion from the prison system.”

Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program, said yesterday that “he’s concerned federal officials are ignoring his proposals for preventing tax dollars from being wasted or pilfered.” In a 260-page report, Barofsky suggests moves such as having the Treasury Department “force bailout recipients to keep track of how exactly they are spending TARP funds.”

White House aides acknowledged yesterday that “the administration will miss its own Tuesday deadline to submit a report detailing its policy on detaining terror suspects.” Administration officials said that a “task force dealing with detention policy has been granted a six-month extension to flesh out its plans, while a separate task force dealing with interrogation policy has been given a two-month extension.”

And finally: This morning, President Obama responded to criticism he has received from the press for wearing “mom jeans” when he threw out the first pitch at baseball’s All-Star Game. “I’m a little frumpy,” Obama acknowledged on the Today Show. “I hate to shop.” He said that up until two years ago, he had only four suits and said “those jeans are comfortable.” And he said he would leave it up to first lady Michelle to set the fashion pace at the White House, telling NBC: “Here’s my attitude: Michelle, she looks fabulous. … For people who want a president to look great in tight jeans, I’m sorry.”

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