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ThinkFast: October 14, 2009

By ThinkProgress  

"ThinkFast: October 14, 2009"

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Major U.S. banks and securities firms are on pace to pay their employees a record-high $140 billion this year, the Wall Street Journal reports. “This year, employees at the companies will earn an estimated $143,400 on average, up almost $2,000 from 2007 levels.”

The Treasury Department is pressing bailed out insurance giant AIG “to reduce a $198 million bonus pool,” according to a report by TARP inspector general Neil Barofsky. According to Barofsky, pay czar Kenneth Feinberg “has recommended to AIG that the full $198 million not be paid out in full,” but “has not yet made a specific recommendation to AIG about how much the insurer should reduce the payments.”

Twenty-seven labor unions announced their opposition to the Senate Finance Committee’s health reform bill because they oppose a tax on Cadillac health care plans. Health insurers are also opposing the Baucus bill because they want a stronger individual mandate penalty. The drug industry, however, is backing the bill.

“For the first time in more than 35 years, the U.S. military has met all of its annual recruiting goals,” largely driven by young people facing the “economic downturn and rising joblessness.” Overall, the “Defense Department brought in 168,900 active-duty troops, or 103 percent of the goal for the fiscal year,” along with “104 percent of the goal for recruitment of National Guard and reserve forces.”

Between New Year’s Day and next November, as many as five Bush administration officials — including the former president himself — will rehash history in hardback,” which may be bad news for “Republicans looking forward to the first Bush-free election in a decade.” But former Bush campaign aide Mark McKinnon thinks it will be good for the GOP, saying that “Republican candidates in 2010 are going to consider asking for [Bush's] help.”

Following a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said his country opposes placing additional sanctions on Iran. Lavrov told the press that Russia is convinced that “threats, sanctions and threats of pressure in the current situation…would be counterproductive.”

Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) will announce today that he is resigning from his congressional seat to become the head of the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation. Wexler is expected to make a statement from his Boca Raton office at 10 am.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman — and Medal of Honor veteran of World War II — Daniel Inouye yesterday embraced Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s call for more troops in Afghanistan. Inouye said McChrystal’s assessment and conclusions are “correct” and “what is needed if we are to achieve security and stability in Afghanistan.”

The EPA yesterday released a document buried by the Bush administration showing that the agency concluded in December 2007 that “six gases linked to global warming pose dangers to public welfare, and wanted to take steps to regulate their release from automobiles and the burning of gasoline.”

And finally: “Tom DeLay may be a wild thing on the dance floor, but when it comes to boosting ratings, he seems to have two left feet,” reported the Los Angeles Times yesterday. Although the former congressman was supposed to “spice up” this season’s “Dancing with the Stars,” the tv show is going through “its worst season since it first premiered in the summer of 2005.”

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