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ThinkFast: September 11, 2009

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"ThinkFast: September 11, 2009"

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“Americans are almost 3,000 days removed from the Sept. 11 terror attacks that toppled the World Trade Center and killed 3,000 people.” President Obama will commemorate the eighth anniversary at a Pentagon ceremony, “honoring the victims and highlighting the need for national service.”

[C]oncern about a terrorist attack in the United States is roughly half of what it was immediately after” the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The new CNN/Opinion Research poll also found that “more than six in 10 say they have confidence in the Obama administration’s ability to protect the country from terrorism.”

Yesterday, former Vice President Dick Cheney attended a ceremony at the University of Wymoing for the dedication of a new international center bearing his name. Protesters made up about a fifth of the crowd of about 500 and hoisted critical signs: “Shame on UW” and “We don’t want your blood money.”

In separate news conferences yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “signaled their willingness to drop a government run public health insurance option from a final health-care bill.” “This is about a goal. It’s not about provisions,” said Pelosi. Reid said a co-op could “fill the bill” if “it makes more competition and it makes the insurance companies honest.”

Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, told the New York Times that passing a health care bill without a public option would be “fantastic” for insurers. Bloomberg News reports that the proposed legislation may create as many as 10 million new customers for Amerigroup Corporation, United Health Group, and other large insurers that administer Medicaid.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the world’s second richest man, told Senate Democrats that wealthy Americans need to pay higher taxes. “It was interesting to see someone who is such an aggressive capitalist, who believes so much in our capitalist system, saying we’ve got the scales way too heavily toward people who are very, very wealthy,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

Treasury Secretary Geithner, appearing at a town hall sponsored by CNBC, said that unemployment will “absolutely” be lower this time next year. After being informed of a poll that says 56 percent of Americans fear another financial meltdown is on the way, Geithner told the audience that “another collapse is within our power to prevent” if the government continues its stimulus efforts.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) yesterday expressed doubts about President Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan, making her “highest-ranking Democrat to signal that any White House or Pentagon push for more troops will be resisted in Congress.” “I don’t think there is a great deal of support for sending more troops to Afghanistan in the country or in Congress,” she said.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 57-40 to confirm Cass Sunstein as director of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Sunstein has been a target of right-wing pundits, such as Glenn Beck.

And finally: D.C. residents are getting a new farmers market right near the White House. Approximately 20 vendors will gather every Thursday afternoon this fall. The organizers of FreshFarmMarkets said they contacted the White House shortly after Inauguration Day with the idea, and the administration was “very enthusiastic.” Assistant White House chef Sam Kass endorsed the idea, saying it was “totally and completely consistent with the goals that the White House has had in terms of fresh food and healthy eating.”

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