ThinkFast: September 24, 2009

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"ThinkFast: September 24, 2009"

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USA Today reports that “Republican campaign committees outraised Democrats by $1.7 million in August as they have aggressively collected political cash amid the rancorous debate over health care.” The GOP “also held an edge over Democrats in the amount of money available, when counting debts.”

In their push to overhaul the health care system, lawmakers “have largely rejected restrictions on how much insurers can charge, sparking fears that consumers will continue to face the skyrocketing premium increases of recent years.” “If the government is going to require people to buy an insurance policy, they have to guarantee it is affordable,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is putting together a global warming “truth squad” that will travel to the Copenhagen international climate treaty negotiations in December and argue against mandated reductions in carbon emissions. Inhofe won’t say who will be part of his entourage. “I’ll see who’s willing to come,” he said.

President Obama plans to use his forum at the U.N. Security Council today to push for a new nuclear weapons treaty that would slow nuclear proliferation and reduce global stockpiles.The U.S. hopes to get a resolution on the nuclear treaty passed through the Security Council as a “presidential resolution,” meaning all 15 Security Council members are co-sponsors.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, denied there’s any discord between him and the President. “To me, there’s no rift. There’s no boxing anybody in,” he told the New York Times. “I believe success is achievable. … I can tell you unequivocally that I have not considered resigning at all.”

The Obama administration will not be seeking “new legislation from Congress authorizing the indefinite detention of about 50 terrorism suspects being held without charges at Guantanamo Bay.” Officials said they “would rely on authority already provided by Congress,” but rejected the Bush position that the president has “inherent power” to “detain terrorism suspects indefinitely regardless of Congress.”

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) released a statement yesterday calling the Obama administration’s new policies on state secrets inadequately transparent. “While I am pleased that the Obama administration recognizes that the Bush approach was a mistake, its new policy is disappointing because it still amounts to an approach of ‘just trust us,’” the Wisconsin senator wrote.

Congressional Democrats and the White House are softening some elements of the Obama administration’s proposal to overhaul financial-market supervision as they begin a push to win broader support for the bill,” the Wall Street Journal reports. For instance, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) said “he would limit the types of companies that could face scrutiny by a proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that “Iran is willing to have its nuclear experts meet” with U.S. and other Western scientists “as a confidence-building measure” over Iran’s nuclear program. He also said Iran would seek to buy enriched uranium from the U.S. and suggested that American agreement “would demonstrate that the Obama administration is serious about engagement.”

And finally: After getting rid of his beard last month, New York Gov. David Paterson (D) has decided to shave his mustache as well. “Additional deficit means additional cutting and it’s likely before the end of this process [of closing the deficit] you will see me bald,” Paterson joked.

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