ThinkFast: September 25, 2009


UPDATE: The Finance Committee announced that the public option debate will not take place today. Instead, it is scheduled to occur on Tuesday.

The public option is expected to be voted on today in the Senate Finance Committee’s health care mark-up. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) explained yesterday, “Tomorrow is the opening day in our big fight, but it is going to be a fight that goes down all the way to the wire.” A new NYT/CBS poll finds 65 percent of Americans support a public option.

“House leaders Thursday released CBO estimates for liberals’ preferred version of the public option that show $85 billion more in savings than for the version the Blue Dogs prefer,” CongressDaily reports. “Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) a Blue Dog co-chair, said any possible new momentum toward a public option tethered to Medicare rates is, in part, ‘because of the cost issue’ and the updated CBO score.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that Iran revealed the existence of a second uranium enrichment plant. U.S. officials said they “had been tracking the covert project for years.” President Obama has “decided to make public the American findings after Iran discovered, in recent weeks, that Western intelligence agencies had breached the secrecy surrounding the project.”

In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, Gen. Stanley McChrystal said that the spread of the violence in Afghanistan was worse than he expected. Asked if things are better or worse than he expected since his arrival a few months ago, the general replies, ” I think that in some areas that the breadth of the violence, the geographic spread of violence, is a little more than I would have gathered.”

A new USA Today/Gallup poll has found that 50 percent of Americans oppose sending more troops to Afghanistan. Sixty-five percent supported President Obama’s decision in February to send nearly 20,000 more troops there.

As flood waters continue to ravage Georgia, the U.S. Geological Survey is calling the natural disaster a “once in 500 years flood.” Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Georgia today to help coordinate a federal response with local and state leaders.

A new study by climate researchers reports that the planet is likely to warm by 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century even if global leaders fulfill their most ambitious pledges on carbon reduction. Robert Correll, one of the researchers who conducted the study, said that “we’re not going in the right direction” on reducing carbon emissions quickly enough.

New Mexico’s largest utility, PNM, yesterday announced that it was dropping out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the group’s refusal to support climate change legislation. “[W]e have decided that we can be most productive by working with organizations that share our view on the need for thoughtful, reasonable climate change legislation,” said PNM in a statement.

“With four months left to meet its self-imposed deadline for closing the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay,” the Obama administration “has shifted its leadership team on the issue,” taking White House Counsel Gregory Craig off the lead of the project. A White House official tells ABC News that “not every” detainee will be out of Guantanamo by the President’s January 22nd deadline for closing the prison.

And finally: Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay isn’t the only politician strapping on a pair of dancing shoes. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) will be taking part in “Dancing with The Tacoma Stars”, a fundraiser for a local theater group, on Sept. 26. Smith and the other “stars” have been practicing for weeks, and Smith has even taken his daughter along for some extra assistance. “Losing is perfectly OK and 100 percent expected,” he told a reporter.

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