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ThinkFast: February 26, 2010

By ThinkProgress  

"ThinkFast: February 26, 2010"

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Building off a Center for American Progress proposal, “the Obama administration is planning to use the government’s enormous buying power to prod private companies to improve wages and benefits for millions of workers,” the New York Times reports. In its contracting, “the government would disqualify more companies with labor, environmental or other violations and give an edge to companies that offer better levels” of pay, health coverage and other benefits.

Radio host Lou Dobbs said yesterday on his show that Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) was “utterly vindicated” in his denial of climate science and that he deserves a round of applause. “This man was absolutely alone in resisting a wave of popular fantasy that was climate change and global warming,” the host said.

The House ethics committee has “admonished” Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) “for improperly accepting reimbursement for trips to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008 and has ordered him to repay the costs of the trip.” The panel is still looking into whether Rangel improperly used federal resources for “a college center to be named after him and incomplete financial disclosures that omitted some income and assets.”

The Department of Defense “abruptly” suspended a program last week that gave military spouses grants of up to $6,000 for college or career training. The program became so popular that it “nearly exhausted” its budget, leading to the suspension. About 98,000 military spouses had enrolled, while 38,000 more had applied.

Though President Obama sought bipartisan ideas for fixing health care yesterday, he acknowledged that “he might be left with a partisan path forward.” “Is there enough serious effort that in a month’s time, or a few week’s time, or six weeks’ time, we could actually resolve something?” asked Obama. “If we can’t, we’ve got to go ahead and make some decisions, and then that’s what elections are for.”

“We were there…in support of a public option which would save $120 billion, keep the insurance companies honest, and increase competition,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reminded President Obama yesterday. Obama noted that Democrats stripped the public option, only to hear Republicans respond with the same concerns about “government takeover of health care.”

House Democrats pulled their intelligence bill from the floor Thursday evening after “House Republicans charged [them] with trying to sneak a provision into the…bill that would establish criminal punishment for” intelligence agents that engaged in assault and torture. “The [bill] should be about protecting and defending our nation, not targeting those we ask to do that deed and giving greater protections to terrorists,” said Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI).

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin “will headline the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina in May,” giving her an “opportunity to appeal to one of the conservative movement’s most prominent interest groups” in a “crucial” presidential primary state.

Vice President Biden will unveil today new rules “to help protect workers’ retirement savings accounts as he delivers an annual report of his middle-class task force.” “These new safeguards will protect workers from conflicts of interest when it comes to financial advisers and their 401(k)s and IRAs,” a White House official said.

And finally: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) celebrated his birthday on Thursday with a “Sinatra ‘My Way’ themed birthday party” in his office, where buddies like Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were spotted.

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