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ThinkFast: August 7, 2009

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"ThinkFast: August 7, 2009"

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New Labor Department numbers show that employers cut just 247,000 jobs in July, “the fewest in a year, and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.4 percent. It was a better than expected showing that offered a strong signal that the recession is finally ending.”

A report card on the stimulus plan offered by economists suggests “increased government spending has helped the economy begin to bottom out faster than it would have otherwise.” “Government — federal, state and local — is helping take the economy from recession to recovery, said Allen L. Sinai, chief economist at Decision Economics. “I think it’s the primary contributor.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said he discussed with President Obama yesterday the possibility of “going it alone” on health care reform “with a Democrats-only bill if the current bipartisan process doesn’t work.” “If Republicans aren’t there, it could get to the point where sometime after the recess … Democrats may have to go in a different direction,” Baucus said.

Senior White House officials have counseled Democrats “on coping with disruptions at public events on health care this summer” and “promised the party and allies would respond with twice the force if any individual lawmaker is criticized in television advertising.” The officials noted that polls show the American public supporting many of their positions on reforming the health care system.

John Brennan, the Obama administration’s counterterrorism chief, indicated that the administration may not meet its January, 2010 deadline to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Brennan also said that the “administration is folding measures to combat terrorists into its broader effort to engage other countries and improve social conditions overseas.”

The State Department’s intelligence bureau has determined that Iran will not be able to produce weapons-grade uranium before 2013. The analysis “is based on Iran’s technical capability and is not a judgment about ‘when Iran might make any political decision’ to produce highly enriched uranium.” But the intelligence community “agrees that a political decision has not yet been made.”

At a closed-door strategy session attended by an array of progressive organizations, “White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel warned liberal groups this week to stop running ads against Democratic members of Congress.” Politico reports the White House believe the ads aimed at Democrats are “counter-productive and largely ineffectual.”

By a 60 to 37 vote last night, the Senate joined the House in approving an additional $2 billion in funding to the popular “Cash for Clunkers” program. In a statement, President Obama praised the Senate’s swift passage, calling the program “a proven success.” CAPAF Senior Fellow Dan Weiss says that “additional CARS funds will help jumpstart auto sales while cutting oil use.”

And finally: In 2000, a Kenyan man offered President Clinton “40 goats and 20 cows” for his daughter Chelsea’s hand in marriage. At a town hall meeting in Nairobi yesterday, the moderator asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a fresh response to the proposal. “My daughter is her own person, very independent, so I will convey this very kind offer,” responded Clinton after a brief pause.

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