ThinkFast: September 18, 2009


A new study released by researchers at Harvard Medical School has calculated that 45,000 Americans a year die because they lack health insurance — nearly one every twelve minutes. “We’re losing more Americans every day because of inaction…drunk driving and homicide combined,” said Dr. David Himmelstein, a co-author of the study.

A new report by the National Snow and Ice Data Center finds that the Arctic ice pack has melted to its third-smallest size ever recorded this summer. “The long-term decline in summer extent is expected to continue in future years,” the report writes.

Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL) is giving little hope to Democrats that he will vote for a final health reform bill. “LeMieux stressed that he had ‘serious concerns’ about the latest health care reform proposal being pushed by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana,” specifically highlighting $400 billion in cuts to Medicare funding.

The Wall Street Journal reports, “For the first time in nearly two years, American households grew a little wealthier in the second quarter.” Household net worth increased 3.9% to $53.1 trillion in the April-June period from the first quarter. “But it was still down almost 19% from the $65.3 trillion peak in the third quarter of 2007.”

The incomes of young and middle-aged Americans — especially men — have “fallen off a cliff since 2000, leaving many age groups poorer than they were even in the 1970s, a USA TODAY analysis of new Census data found.” The trend widens “a gap between young and old that had been expanding for years.” Every generation born after 1955 is part of the economic slump.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has said he expects to make adjustments to the health plan he recently released in order to mollify critics. Many of Baucus’ colleagues have charged that his bill doesn’t do enough to help low and middle-income Americans. “”We’re going to have to work all that out,” the senator replied in response to criticism.

In an interview with Bloomberg, former President Bill Clinton predicted that Senate Republicans will end up supporting the Baucus bill. “I believe he’ll get Snowe and he could get Collins and he might get three or four others,” Clinton said. “If they believe a bill is going to pass, some of them will vote for it.”

The House voted 253-171 to pass a sweeping education bill yesterday that would “effectively end private-lender involvement in the student loan market.” “This bill will end the billions upon billions of dollars in unwarranted subsidies that we hand out to banks and financial institutions, and will use that money to guarantee access to low-cost loans,” Obama said in a statement.

Massachusetts may soon have its second U.S. Senator. Yesterday, the state House voted 95-58 to pass legislation giving Gov. Deval Patrick (D) the authority to appoint an interim senator before the Jan. 19 special election. The state Senate is expected to pass the bill soon.

And finally: Chuck Todd may be NBC’s White House correspondent, but as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pointed out yesterday, there are still a few things he could learn from Sesame Street. Watch it here.

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