ThinkFast: February 4, 2010

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"ThinkFast: February 4, 2010"

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Republicans are stepping up their campaign to win donations from Wall Street,” following the industry’s increasing turn against the Democratic Party. House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) reportedly met with J.P. Morgan chief and Democratic ally James Dimon last week to try to persuade him to support his party.

Health care spending grew to be 17.3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product in 2009 — a 1.1 percentage point rise — despite the economic recession. The increase was the largest in a single year since 1960, according to the new report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. By 2019, health care spending is anticipated to be represent 19.3 percent of the economy.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is “preparing a series of gun rights amendments that he intends to offer to must-pass Senate bills this year, hoping to force Democrats to take tough votes and draw clear distinctions between the two parties heading into the midterms.” “We’ll see gun amendments if we see appropriations bills,” Coburn said.

President Bush briefly “considered — and rejected — a military response to Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia,” according to a new history of the conflict. Bush’s national security aides outlined possible responses, including “surgical strikes,” but rejected them as “too risky.”

Some prominent Republicans are soon launchinga center-right version of the Center for American Progress.” Former senator Norm Coleman and former McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin are leading the effort, while Haley Barbour, Jeb Bush, and Ed Gillespie are also involved. “Let them have at it,” said CAP President and CEO John Podesta, “and we’ll be happy to debate them.”

“The Obama administration is aggressively pushing back against Republican criticism of its handling of terrorism suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.” Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter yesterday “to Senate Republicans in which he said the legal decisions in the Abdulmutallab case were consistent with the strategy used during George W. Bush’s administration.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said yesterday that his agency is “widening its probe” of accelerator issues in Toyota vehicles “to look at the possibility of electromagnetic interference” with the cars’ throttles. He also said he “wants to talk directly” with the company’s CEO.

State Farm Florida announced that it will cancel “the policies of 125,000 of its most vulnerable customers beginning Aug. 1, halfway through the 2010 hurricane season.” A spokesman for the company told the press the “decision was the direct result of its failure to win a 47.1 percent rate increase from state regulators.”

Iran’s two leading opposition leaders, Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, “are urging protesters to defy the government and take to the streets in an antigovernment rally on Feb. 11″ in a challenge to the increasingly violent tactics used by the Iranian regime to control the population. Karroubi called for free elections, the release of political prisoners, and an end to what he called the “police state.”

And finally: Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) says he’s “all for full disclosure,” but he has turned down Cosmopolitan invitation to show the “full monty” in the magazine.

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