ThinkFast: December 15, 2009

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"ThinkFast: December 15, 2009"

Sen. Arlen Specter announces he is switching parties

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) urged the Senate Democratic caucus not to let “obstructionists” defeat the bill. Specter said. “I came to this caucus to be your 60th vote.” Commenting on the health care compromise, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said, “If you compared it to the alternative, it looks good. … If you compare it to the possibilities, it looks pretty sad.”

An editorial in the Connecticut Post demands that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) explain why he backed off his earlier support of a Medicare buy-in. The paper proclaims, “He should drop this charade and come up with a coherent explanation for his recent behavior. He should not join a filibuster against the bill.”

President Obama has summoned every Senate Democrat for a meeting at the White House today where he is expected to make the case that this is the “last chance” for health care reform. “If President Obama doesn’t pass health reform, it’s hard to imagine another president ever taking on this Herculean task,” said White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer.

The Obama administration is expected to announce today that it has selected the Thomson Correctional Center — a maximum security prison about 150 miles west of Chicago — to house terrorism suspects currently being held at Guantánamo Bay. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn (D) said the move “would bring jobs to an impoverished part of the state.”

A USA Today/Gallup poll has found that a “solid majority of Americans support the idea of a global treaty” that would require the U.S. “to reduce significantly greenhouse gas emissions.” Fifty-five percent support a binding treaty but “a lopsided 7-1″ say priority should be given to the economy. Forty-two percent said addressing climate change will hurt the economy; 36 percent said it would help.

A New York Times/CBS poll finds that “joblessness has wreaked financial and emotional havoc on the lives of many of those out of work.” Nearly half of those surveyed “suffered from depression or anxiety,” and 4 in 10 unemployed parents noticed “behavioral changes” in their children.

President Obama “gave the nation’s top bankers an earful” yesterday, “telling them in no uncertain terms that it’s time for them to start lending again to help boost the economy after being bailed out themselves by the nation’s taxpayers.” Obama also told them he’ll fight their lobbyists on new financial regulations, and “that they need to do more to rein in exorbitant pay.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out the Obama administration’s human rights agenda yesterday, which “recognize[s] the limits of American authority.” During a speech at Georgetown University she stressed “the need for change within countries” like Iran. “We must be pragmatic,” she said, while “not compromising on our principles.”

“Eager to turn Tea Party anger into election-year cash,” conservatives are launching “a flurry of new political action committees aimed at collecting small-dollar donations from newly engaged anti-tax, anti-spending activists.” Former House Republican leader Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks debuted the Take Back America PAC this week, which is aimed at pressuring Republican candidates “to be a lot more like Reagan Republicans.”

And finally: Even Joe’s wife doesn’t understand him. “My wife said to me, ‘Why do you always end up being the point person here?’” Lieberman said, “flashing a broad grin in an interview on Monday.”

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