ThinkFast: September 22, 2009


Vice President Joe Biden said Republicans have made a “bet” to oppose Obama in order to win back some congressional seats. “They’re going to put their chips on movement in the 35 seats in the House that have been traditionally Republican districts and trying to take them back,” Biden said, adding, “If they take them back, this the end of the road for what Barack and I are trying to do.”

The Pentagon has told top commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal “to delay submitting his request for additional troops…amid signs that the Obama administration is rethinking its strategy for combating a resurgent Taliban.” “We have to make sure we have the right strategy,” an unnamed defense official said. “Things have changed on the ground fairly considerably.”

Census data released yesterday shows that the percentage of U.S. population “composed of immigrants dropped slightly in 2008, reversing a 40-year trend that helped fuel the nation’s explosive growth and diversity.” The drop in foreign born residents is more pronounced in areas that have been most effected by the recession.

ProPublica reports that in 2007, Blue Dog Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) sold a piece of commercial property “for substantially more than a county assessment and an independent appraisal say it was worth.” Pharmacy chain USA Drug paid Ross $420,000 for the real estate, $500,000 to $1 million for the pharmacy’s assets and another $100,000 to $250,000 to Ross’s wife, Holly, for a non-compete agreement.

The Clinton Global Initiative gets underway today in New York City. In an interview with The Wonk Room, Clinton warned the U.S. could experience a “long-term economic decline” due to high college tuitions. He said “higher education institutions are pricing themselves into America’s decline.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) “said Monday that he would modify his health care bill to provide more generous assistance to moderate-income Americans, to help them buy insurance.” Saying that “he had heard the criticism of his bill from colleagues,” Baucus also “said he would make changes to reduce the impact of a proposed tax on high-end health insurance policies.”

Sen. Baucus also said he could support a so-called trigger for the public plan, an idea proposed by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME). “Well, it’s very interesting,” he said. “I am very open to a trigger.”

Yesterday, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) held a town hall meeting to discuss the need for comprehensive immigration reform. He said he will co-sponsor the legislation that will be introduced this year. “This is not going to be easy. Its going to be very difficult,” said Moran.

The White House is keeping “insurance companies squarely in its sights” with a new report showing that “health insurance premiums have risen far faster than inflation in every U.S. state.” On average, families saw an increase of 5.5 percent in their premiums, while inflation actually fell by 0.7 percent. Vice President Biden will be addressing the results in a speech to insurance commissioners today.

And finally: “Donning brown pants and a matching vest lined with leopard print and rhinestones,” former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay hit the dance floor on “Dancing with the Stars” last night. He and partner Cheryl Burke cha-cha’ed to the song “Wild Thing.” One judge said that the “Hammer” was “crazier than Sarah Palin,” but out of 30 points, DeLay scored just 16. Watch his performance here.

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