ThinkFast: January 22, 2010

George W. Bush

Some conservative House Democrats are pushing to extend the Bush tax cuts, likely earning themselves favor with “Republican-leaning business associations.” Pat Garofalo writes, “There’s absolutely no reason to extend these cuts, which this year will give millionaires more in tax breaks than 90 percent of Americans will earn in income.”

Ben Bernanke’s confirmation for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman “could be a closer vote than seemed likely just a few weeks ago.” Three senators have publicly said they will vote against Bernanke and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said there are other Dems who are quietly planning to do the same.

In the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on corporate involvement in elections, the Colorado Republican Party plans to sue “to overturn voter-approved state limits on some campaign contributions.” “Our firm will be bringing a challenge to this law in the coming days,” said Ryan Call, a lawyer whose firm will represent the state GOP. The 2002 law banned direct corporate or union expenditures in state races.

“The nation’s mayors are asking the federal government for a second wave of stimulus money,” saying the first round hasn’t done enough to combat urban unemployment. More than 230 mayors are in Washington for a conference and warn that they will be forced to impose more layoffs without a second stimulus.

Liberal radio network Air America announced yesterday that it was declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy and shutting down after six years on air. The company raised the profile of Al Franken and Rachel Maddow and “helped build a new sense of purpose and determination among American progressives” at a time when dissent on issues was “often denounced as ‘un-American.'” Despite yesterday’s news, progressive radio remains alive and well.

In a speech on internet freedom yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Those who disrupt the free flow of information in our society or any other pose a threat to our economy, our government and our civil society.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry lashed out today saying Clinton’s speech was “harmful to Sino-American relations.”

“A bill that would ban abortions in Nebraska during the second trimester or later would be the first law of its kind in the nation if passed by the Legislature,” according to the bill’s sponsor. The legislation would ban abortion after the fetus has the “physical structures necessary to experience pain” and would “require a doctor to determine the gestational age of the fetus before performing an abortion.”

The Obama administration “has decided to continue to imprison without trials nearly 50 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba because a high-level task force has concluded that they are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release,” an administration official told the press Thursday. There are currently nearly 200 detainees left at the prison.

Several European governments reacted positively to a new Obama plan “to curb banks’ size and trading activities” yesterday. “They see that regulation, which was a taboo word that was difficult to use in financial circles in the United States, is vital to contain … banking excesses,” said French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde.

Continuing his “White House to Main Street” jobs tour, President Obama will travel to the Cleveland suburb of Elyria, Ohio today, one of the hardest hit areas in the country in terms of unemployment. The president will visit the Riddell sporting goods factory to witness the production of baseball and football helmets.

And finally: Washington now finds itself in the middle of the NBC controversy between Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien: The White House Correspondents’ Association has reportedly chosen Leno to headline its annual dinner on May 1.

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