ThinkFast: February 25, 2010

Newt Gingrich

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said yesterday that many Capitol Hill staffers have never worked at a real job. “Of course it’s the nature of the modern Congress, which hires lots of nice young staffers who have never had a real job,” said Gingrich. He added that they “spent their entire life being arrogant to visitors from back home” and “write legislation as though they have some contact with reality.”

Morgan Stanley Chairman John Mack said investment bankers are overpaid” during a question-and-answer session at Queens University yesterday. “I still don’t think the industry gets it,” Mack said. “The issue is not structure, it is amount.”

“White House officials are opening the door to compromise” on major financial reform legislation by “no longer insisting on the creation of a stand-alone consumer protection agency.” The Washington Post reports that the administration is open to placing consumer protection regulation in the hands of the Treasury or other already-existing agencies.

Vice President Joe Biden told the Delaware News Journal that “Democrats are ready to work with any good ideas Republicans bring to today’s White House summit on health care reform.” “Literally, if they come up with an idea that bends that (cost) curve, we’ll compromise,” Biden said of Republicans. “I know of no other way than to just keep pushing, saying, ‘Guys, OK, this is our idea. What’s your idea?’”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Obama’s health care advisers have prepared a scaled-back plan if comprehensive reform falters. “His leading alternate approach would provide health insurance to perhaps 15 million Americans, about half what the comprehensive bill would cover.” The White House is denying that the fallback plan is being given any consideration.

Maryland’s Attorney General declared yesterday that the state “should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states,” requiring Maryland government agencies “to extend all benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy to married gay couples.” In response, one Republican lawmaker said that he will “bring articles of impeachment against Gansler for trying to usurp Maryland law.”

Speaking before the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton complained that Republicans holding up President Obama’s appointees is hurting his foreign policy goals and damaging America’s image abroad. Clinton said the “gridlock” has prevented key foreign policy positions from being filled and has created confusion among America’s allies.

A new poll gives President Obama higher numbers in South Carolina than the state’s two Republican senators. Nearly 48 percent of South Carolina adults approve of Obama’s performance, while 39.4 percent approve of that of Sen. Lindsey Graham and 42.6 percent approve of Sen. Jim DeMint’s, a Winthrop University poll found.

The Senate passed a $15 billion jobs bill yesterday on a bipartisan 70-28 vote. The measure will give tax breaks to companies that hire new employees. However, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) criticized the Senate for not fully addressing the unemployment problem, calling the bill “a whimper” and “a ‘go slow,’ piecemeal approach will do little to address our nation’s need for employment.”

And finally: Comedian Andy Cobb looks at the real winner of today’s health care summit.

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