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ThinkFast: July 24, 2009

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"ThinkFast: July 24, 2009"

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John Boehner lifts his chin with Roy Blunt

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A day after Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) suggested that House Republicans won’t offer a health care plan of their own, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said that Republicans will have an alternative healthcare reform bill to offer “but did not say when it would be ready.” “We’re continuing to put the final touches on our bill as the Democrats are continuing to put the finishing touches on their bill,” he said.

Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter on Thursday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and President Obama calling out seven “Blue Dog” Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee who are “holding up health care for people who are sick and dying.” The letter restated the CBC’s commitment to “a robust government insurance health plan.”

At a townhall meeting yesterday, President Obama said “he is willing to accept a temporary delay in the passage of health care reform legislation if Congress ultimately approves a satisfactory bill.” If legislators “are legitimately working out tough problems,” Obama said he had “no problem,” adding that he didn’t “want a delay just because of politics … (or) delay for the sake of delay.”

After likening the behavior of North Korea’s regime to “unruly teenagers,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton found herself on the receiving end of a personal attack. A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman called Clinton “by no means intelligent” and a “funny lady.” “Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping,” the statement said.

A new global survey conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that President Obama’s election has “helped restore the United States’ image abroad to levels unseen since the Clinton years.” Improved attitudes “were most marked in Western Europe, but also evident in Asia, Africa and Latin America and included some predominantly Muslim countries.” However, the poll “confirms a drop in confidence in the United States among Israelis.” 

Yesterday, Obama today stood by his comments that the Cambridge, MA police department acted “stupidly” in its arrest of Harvard African-American studies professor Henry Louis Gates. “I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement, because I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don’t need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who’s in his own home,” Obama said.

The federal minimum wage rises today from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour, which affects nearly 4 million workers across the nation and is the final wage increase mandated by Congress in 2007. The increase means that a full-time minimum wage earner will receive $28 more a week. “[A]ny kind of increase in your paycheck is a big help,” said one minimum wage earner, “[it] makes you feel that much better about paying your bills.”

Obama will announce the next phase of education funding today “as one round of stimulus money filters through state governments and into school districts.” The $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund will be distributed in two stages to “a handful of states with positive records” of what the Education Department “considers school reform as well as plans for additional improvement.”

And finally: Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) caused great political controversy when he bluntly stated, “If we’re able to stop Obama on [health care] it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” Last night, in front of a lively crowd of hometown supporters, Obama responded with a sharp quip. “Let me tell you something,” the president said. “I’m from Chicago. I don’t break.

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