ThinkFast: July 28, 2009

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"ThinkFast: July 28, 2009"

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A bipartisan group of the Senate Finance Committee is “closing in on a health care compromise.” The tentative agreement would create “a network of nonprofit cooperatives,” instead of establishing a new public health plan as favored by senior House Democrats. Also, the Senate “moderates” won’t mandate employer coverage.

In a letter to Rep. David Camp (R-MI), the CBO said a “preliminary analysis” found that a health care bill with a public option “would result in 3 million more people enrolled in employer-sponsored coverage by 2016, compared with what would happen under current laws.” “The CBO has…disputed claims made by the Republicans about what our legislation will do,” declared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in response to the letter.

The Republican National Committee intends to “spend nearly $1 million on campaign activities over the next month in an effort to cast doubt on President Obama’s proposal to reform health care.” The campaign will include television commercials in Arkansas, Nevada and North Dakota and radio ads in 33 states.

After raising concerns yesterday about whether President Obama is a citizen of the U.S. and qualified to be president, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) provided a clarifying statement to the Tulsa World. “If there are legal experts who have concerns, I would encourage them to continue looking into it,” the statement read. Greg Sargent reports that Inhofe’s staff is slowly backing down.

U.S. Middle East special envoy George Mitchell and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not reach a deal today on a Jewish settlement freeze, but Mitchell said the two had made “good progress” on the issue. Netanyahu said their efforts to promote peace in the region “will eventually succeed.”

Top Iranian leaders are calling for “greater protection” for demonstrators arrested during recent election protests, reflecting concern that some “are being mistreated by officials and groups operating under the authority of the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps.” Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also ordered the closure of a prison where detained protesters have died in custody.

Politico reports that the House GOP “has yet to reveal its own alternative legislation.” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) “released a four-page outline of a bill a little more than a month ago, but he has yet to release a full-fledged alternative Republican bill — as he said he would do when he unveiled the plan in June.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced that the Senate Armed Service Committee will hold a hearing this fall to review the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gay members of the armed forces. In a statement released yesterday, Gillibrand called the policy “wrong for our national security and wrong for the moral foundation upon which our country was founded.”

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission “plans to issue a report next month suggesting speculators played a significant role in driving wild swings in oil prices — a reversal of an earlier CFTC position that augurs intensifying scrutiny on investors.” A CFTC commissioner said the group’s earlier report blaming supply and demand for oil-price swings was based on “deeply flawed data.”

And finally: Basketball star Shaq was in Washington, DC yesterday, as the host of the WWE Raw show. Before the show, he tried to stop by the White House — and was turned away. “The white house wouldn’t let me in, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy,” Shaq wrote on Twitter. Ends up, the whole thing was a bet with one of his handlers, and Shaq now owes him 1,000 push-ups. Shaq told the Washington Post that he didn’t try to use any of his “political connections,” and everyone at the White House gate was very nice to him.

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