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ThinkFast: August 3, 2009

By ThinkProgress  

"ThinkFast: August 3, 2009"

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Drug makers and oil-and-gas companies have increased their lobbying activities during the three months ended June 30. But overall, the Washington DC lobbying business is down 1% from $825.3 million during the same three-month period in 2008.

“Large and small bankers, mortgage lenders, credit card companies, and other financial services players” are going to be busy during the August recess blasting Congress with letters, e-mails, and visits. They are attempting to bring down one of President Obama’s top regulatory reform proposals: creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

Sarah Palin made her first public appearance since quitting her job as Alaska’s governor. She “gave a speech on Second Amendment rights Saturday night” at a National Rifle Association-sponsored banquet in Anchorage.

White House and Justice Department officials said yesterday that the Obama administration is considering the transfer of Guantanamo inmates to the U.S. for trial at a hybrid military-civilian prison. While the “courtroom within a detention facility” is being examined, officials emphasized that “no decisions have been made.”

Israeli security forces evicted two Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem yesterday “after the families lost a long legal battle to remain in the contested properties, furthering a plan for Jewish settlement in the predominantly Arab area.”  State Department officials condemned the move while, the U.N. Middle East coordinator called the Israeli move “totally unacceptable” and British officials said they were “appalled” by the evictions. 

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) is leading a group of 25 Republican members of the House of Representatives on a one week trip to Israel. The delegation was organized by the American Israel Education Foundation “to provide the legislators with first-hand knowledge on the value of the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the Obama administration may have to halt its popular “cash for clunkers” program as early as tomorrow, unless the Senate follows the House and approves $2 billion in additional funding. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is already objecting to the program, saying it’s an example of the “stupidity coming out of Washington right now.”

President Obama and Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Eric Shinseki will be commemorating the new GI Bill today, which went into effect on Aug. 1. Over the weekend, the VA “began distributing tuition payments to schools participating in the program over the weekend. In the next decade, $78 billion is expected to be paid out.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is embarking “on a seven-nation tour of Africa to affirm the Obama administration’s commitment to tackling trouble spots across the continent from Somalia and Zimbabwe to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia.”

And finally: The House GOP pays homage to Rush Limbaugh, even when it isn’t trying. The House Republican Conference plans to award a “golden microphone” to the “Member who gets the best press over the August recess and the message man (or woman) who helps them.” Limbaugh, however, often refers to the “golden microphone” he uses in his broadcasts, and Roll Call notes that “the phrase is synonymous with the controversial conservative.” Pence’s spokesman said the reference wasn’t intentional.

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