ThinkFast: March 10, 2010

Sen. Bob Corker

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who is a playing “a crucial role in bipartisan negotiations over financial regulation,” pushed to “remove a provision from draft legislation that would have empowered federal authorities to crack down on payday lenders. … The industry is politically influential in his home state and a significant contributor to his campaigns, records show.”

The Census Bureau will hire up to 750,000 workers in May, “a hiring binge that could knock the unemployment rate down by as much as a half-point.” The Census hiring comes “at the best possible time” for President Obama, and could lead to positive monthly job growth figures for only the second time in the past year.

Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will hold a series of hearings on reforming the filibuster. The first hearing, scheduled for March 24, will “examine the history of the filibuster” and the following two will “likely focus on specific filibuster reform proposals.”

U.S. officials fear that the controversy over disqualified candidates in Iraq’s national election could undermine its legitimacy and inflame opponents of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The election commission — run by Ahmed Chalabi — barred many candidates that belong to former prime minister Ayad Allawi’s coalition, “which appears to have done well in secular and Sunni communities.”

Chief Justice John Roberts said yesterday that President Obama’s criticism of the Supreme Court during his State of the Union address was “very troubling.” Speaking to University of Alabama law students, Roberts said the the annual speech has “degenerated to a political pep rally.”

Local officials in Washington D.C. say legalizing gay marriage in the District will bring the city much needed jobs. A study by the nonprofit Williams Institute predicted it will “create 700 jobs and contribute $52.2 million over three years.” “We think it’s a great opportunity to capitalize on groups that will be coming to Washington,” said District tourism official Elliott Ferguson.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said yesterday that the pilot who crashed his plane into an IRS building last month was not a case of domestic terrorism. The pilot, A. Joseph Stack “had his own personal issues and personal motives,” Napolitano said.

The Washington Post reports that shortly after Eric Massa (D-NY) joined Congress last year, “several male staff members began to feel uncomfortable with the sexually loaded language their boss routinely used.” Rumors began circulating that he had “sexually propositioned young male staffers and interns,” possibly even “groping at least two aides.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) announced yesterday that nine additional senators had joined him to co-sponsor legislation repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: John Kerry (D-MA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (OH), Tom Udall (NM), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Russ Feingold (D-WI). There are now 23 total co-sponsors to the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010.

And finally: Don’t confuse Britain’s Conservative Party with America’s conservative movement. In a new interview with Vanity Fair, UK Conservative Party leader David Cameron said of the Sarah Palin phenomenon: “It’s hard for us to understand, if I can put it that way.”

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