ThinkFast: February 3, 2010

Senate Democrats are planning to unveil an $80 billion jobs package this week intended to tackle the country’s unemployment problem. The Senate’s leadership is “proposing that part of the money come from funds originally allocated to the financial-sector bailout effort.”

President Obama said for the first time Tuesday that cap-and-trade legislation “may need to be separated from a more popular ‘green jobs’ bill in the Senate, a maneuver that could kill what once had been one of the administration’s top policy priorities.” A White House spokesman said Obama still favors a bill that combines both.

A “politically diverse group of bloggers, commentators, techies, and politicos” will today launch an online campaign, Demand Question Time, to call on the President to regularly hold televised debates and conversations following Friday’s Obama-GOP event. The campaigners include the Nation’s Katrina Vanden Heuvel and conservative activist Grover Norquist.

AIG plans to hand out another $100 million in employee bonuses today, “a year after similar payments at the bailed-out insurance giant infuriated many Americans.” The “retention payments” go to employees at the company’s troubled Financial Products division, which has been blamed for AIG’s downfall.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that he has “no problem” with a plan — which Iran formally rejected just weeks ago — to “swap low-enriched uranium for fuel for a research reactor that produces medical isotopes.” “We sign a contract to give 3.5 percent enriched uranium and receive 20 percent enriched ones after four or five months,” Ahmadinejad said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “plans to take a shot at the health insurance industry next week by scheduling a vote on a smaller bill to revoke its half-century-old exemption from antitrust laws.” The move is “part of her new two-track strategy to tackle things that won’t be included in a more sweeping bill” while “giving her members something politically popular to vote on.”

A group of progressive federal lawmakers is calling for a constitutional amendment to make clear that “corporations do not have the same free speech rights as individuals,” an attempt to “limit the impact of last month’s Supreme Court decision gutting decades of campaign finance law.” Reps. Donna Edwards (D-MD) and John Conyers (D-MI) have already introduced a bill in the House, and one will be put forward in the Senate soon.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed Christmas Day bomber, “started talking to investigators after two of his family members arrived in the United States and helped earn his cooperation.” A senior administration official said that “with the family, the F.B.I. approached the suspect” and Abdulmutallab “has been cooperating for days.”

Former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) is expected to announce today that he will challenge Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) this year. Coats, who held the seat Bayh now holds from 1989 to 1999, “has worked as a lobbyist and served as U.S. ambassador to Germany during the George W. Bush administration” since leaving Congress.

And finally: The Bill Press Show punked a reporter for The Hill, convincing him that he was talking to President Obama. Listen to it here.

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