ThinkFast: March 5, 2010

Jobs Center

The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate in February remained unchanged at 9.7 percent as employers cut 36,000 jobs. Economic experts were “expecting a loss of 75,000 jobs.”

The House passed a $15 billion jobs bill Thursday by a narrow margin of 217-201. The bill was opposed by Congressional Black Caucus members, who considered it too small to tackle the problems facing their communities.

For the second time in two years, the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday voted along party lines to approve the nomination of Dawn Johnsen for heading the Office of Legal Counsel. “Republicans are likely to block her nomination on the Senate floor, as they did last year, because of her views on national security and abortion, and it’s not clear that Democrats have the 60 votes they would need to force a confirmation vote.”

“Despite steep odds,” President Obama is looking to revive plans for a major overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws — a commitment he has postponed once already. The White House plan would include a path to citizenship requiring undocumented workers “to register, pay taxes and pay a penalty for violating the law.”

An anti-abortion bill in Utah that would’ve harshly penalized any woman whose fetus died from “her intentional or reckless behavior was withdrawn by its sponsor on Thursday.” It will be “revised to be narrower in scope.”

Yesterday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said that drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is “one of the must-haves” in climate change negotiations. But Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has rejected that idea, saying it “would be a deal breaker.” “That is just not going to happen,” Lieberman told reporters.

President Obama’s “energy strategy came under attack” yesterday. Not only did “big utility operators and some state officials” attack his plan to abandon a federal nuclear-waste vault beneath Yucca Mountain, but Democrats introduced legislation to block the EPA from regulating carbon-dioxide emissions and urged him not to use stimulus money to help finance a wind-energy project that involves China.

Iraqi security forces, detainees and hospital patients were allowed to vote yesterday ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Iraq. However, a “roadside bomb and two suicide bombers targeting polling stations in Baghdad killed at least 12 people marring the first day of voting to elect the government that will rule as U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq.”

And finally: Appearing as a political pundit on ABC’s Good Morning America panel yesterday, actor Tom Hanks joked that he “can’t wait to buy Karl Rove’s book when it’s discounted in the discount bin.” Hanks added, “I’m sure he’s going to just blow the lid off of everything and tell the complete truth about those 8 years.”

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