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ThinkFast: October 21, 2009

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"ThinkFast: October 21, 2009"

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President Obama

In remarks at a fundraising reception in New York City last night, President Obama criticized Wall Street for engaging in “reckless speculation and deceptive practices and short-sightedness and self-interestedness.” “So if there are members of the financial industry in the audience today,” Obama said, eliciting chuckles from the well-heeled crowd, “I would ask that you join us in passing what are necessary reforms. Don’t fight them.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “will deliver a major address on arms control and international security” today at the U.S. Institute of Peace. In her speech, Clinton will both promote “President Obama’s goal of reducing the role of nuclear weapons in the United States’ defense posture” and “argue that the United States will retain a safe, secure and effective strategic force.”

A “preliminary estimate” from the CBO projects that the House Democrats’ health care plan that includes a robust public option will reduce the deficit in its first ten years and would cost $871 billion over that period. The estimate is “significantly less” than previous ones and “under the $900 billion cap set by President Obama.”

Leading House Democrats are looking to re-brand the public option as a form of Medicare. “One of his concerns is that people don’t know what a public option is. Medicare is a public option,” said John Schadl, a spokesman for Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN). The idea of re-branding the public option as Medicare “Part E” — E standing for everyone — was first proposed by columnist Thom Hartmann last month.

Mohawk Fine Papers became the latest company to resign from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its climate policy. “We believe that our continued membership in an organization that vigorously opposes sensible climate change policies is detrimental to our position as a business leader with a strong record in the areas of environmental innovation and climate protection,” said Mohawk Senior VP George F. Milner.

Americans are “evenly and deeply divided” over whether Obama should send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and “public approval of the president’s handling of the situation has tumbled.” A new ABC/Washington Post poll found that 47 percent favor a troop build-up, while 49 percent oppose it. A majority said the U.S. lacks a clear plan for the war. 

Pakistan shut down its schools across the country today following a suicide attack on an Islamic university yesterday. “We are under constant threat. Our children’s education is suffering. If they can attack an Islamic university, they can do it anywhere,” Muhammad Irfan, a concerned parent, told the press.

Navy Rear Adm. Tom Copeman, the commander of the Guantanamo Bay prison, said that the military can comply with a White House order to move all detainees from the facility “with 10 days notice.” “If they say on Jan. 12, ‘Move them out,’ we can meet the deadline,” he said, “given the proper amount of logistical support.”

The level of poverty in America is even worse than first believed,” reports the AP. The National Academy of Science finds that “approximately 47.4 million Americans last year lived in poverty, 7 million more than the government’s official figure.” The new calculations put the poverty rate at 15.8 percent, or nearly one in six Americans.

And finally: There’s a new workout craze sweeping Congress. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has convinced his colleagues to hit the gym and try the P90X workout. “When I saw Paul Ryanman, he’s gotten in great shape,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), a recent convert. “He doesn’t have a six-pack; he’s got, like, a 12-pack.” Ryan said that one of the most successful lawmakers on the program is Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), a former NFL quarterback. Ryan said that Shuler has “gotten great results,” although Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) is “the person who seems dedicated to it, who’s going to produce.”

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