ThinkFast: November 9, 2009

Diana DeGette and Bart Stupak

The historic health care legislation passed by the House over the weekend included an amendment that sharply restricts “the availability of coverage for abortions.” Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) said she has collected “more than 40 signatures from House Democrats vowing to oppose any final bill that includes the amendment — enough to block passage.”

As chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will lead an investigation into the Fort Hood shootings to look for “signs of ‘Islamic extremism.'” Lieberman said on Fox News Sunday that the shootings may be “the most destructive terrorist act to be committed on American soil since 9/11.”

Former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev said that President Obama should begin a withdrawal from Afghanistan. “I think that what’s needed is not additional forces,” he said, “this is something that we discussed, too, years ago but we decided not to do it. And I think our experience deserves attention.”

President Obama is reportedly nearing a decision to send up to 34,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. “This is not going to be an easy sell [to the American public],” one administration official told McClatchy.

The three biggest banks to exit the government’s TARP program — Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s investment bank — “are set to pay record bonuses this year,” totaling $29.7 billion. “It doesn’t seem as if even political threat, disastrous PR, envy, rising unemployment rates and home repossessions is enough to get any of these people to refuse the bonuses they have ‘earned,’” said Paul Hodgson of Corporate Library.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is urging banks to loosen up credit at a time “of mounting unemployment, rising company bankruptcies and increasing regulatory oversight.” Tight credit is a “serious problem,” Jan Hatzius, chief U.S. economist at Goldman Sachs says. “This could keep growth significantly weaker.”

“Growing concerned that the Congressional timetable for passing a health care overhaul could slip into next year,” the White House “is stepping up pressure on the Senate for quick action, with President Obama appearing Sunday in the Rose Garden to call on senators to ‘”take up the baton and bring this effort to the finish line.'” For now, the Senate’s bill is “stalled while budget analysts assess its overall costs.”

Over the weekend, the Iraqi parliament approved a crucial election lawby a wide margin after weeks of deadlock, which had raised fears that the parliamentary election might have to be delayed.” Obama said that the agreement advanced the “political progress” to “allow for the orderly and responsible transition of American combat troops out of Iraq by next September.”

President Obama will hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today as the Israeli-Palestinian peace effort continues to flounder. One major issue expected to arise is that of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, which the administration has softened its line on in recent weeks.

And finally: It turns out that the Twitter feed of Levi Johnston is a fake. After actor William Shatner performed a dramatic reading of some of his tweets on Conan O’Brien’s show, the Tonight Show host has apologized for the error, saying, “I’d like to apologize personally to Levi Johnston and his lawyer and publicist for misrepresenting him in any way. Levi is clearly a great American. We wish him the best of luck as he trains for his upcoming naked photo shoot.”

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