ThinkFast: March 24, 2010

A new USA Today/Gallup poll has found that more Americans favor the health care overhaul President Obama signed into law yesterday. Forty-nine percent said it was “a good thing,” while 40 percent did not. Half said they are “enthusiastic” or “pleased” with the bill with 48 percent saying it’s a “good first step.”

The United Kingdom has expelled a key Israel diplomat following the revelation that Israel may have forged British passports during the course of an assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai. “Such misuse of British passports is intolerable,” British foreign secretary David Miliband said. “The fact that this was done by a country which is a friend only adds insult to injury.”

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) said that his “baby killer” outburst has drawn a “tremendous outpouring” of phone calls, emails, and financial contributions “telling me, ‘Congressman, thank you for taking a stand.'” He said he had “no idea” how much money he had raised off the comment, but said, “this is not about money.”

The Treasury Department said the Obama administration’s foreclosure-prevention program — Making Home Affordable — “would reach as many as 4 million struggling borrowers.” However, TARP special inspector general Neil Barofsky said in a new report that Treasury “now expects only 1.5 million to 2 million homeowners to get mortgage relief.”

Yesterday, Obama administration’s pay czar Kenneth Feinberg announced “further pay cuts for top executives at five U.S. firms still receiving substantial help from the federal government, saying the vast majority of cash salaries will remain at $500,000 or less.” Feinberg’s rulings “apply to 119 executives at American International Group, General Motors, Chrysler, GMAC and Chrysler Financial.”

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute finds that “unfair Chinese trade and currency practices caused the loss of as many as 2.4 million U.S. jobs between 2001 and 2008.” The report comes as 130 members of Congress asked the Obama administration to officially label China a currency manipulator last week.

College students “swarmed Capitol Hill” yesterday to “plead for more financial aid as private lenders made a last push to preserve their endangered role in making federal student loans.” The legislation the Senate is considering could save billions of dollars that would flow to needy students. Since 1999, the student loan industry has spent $62,567,134 lobbying Congress, with last year as one of its highest yet.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced a bill yesterday to rein in the filibuster that would require senators seeking to block legislation to actually “show up on the floor and debate,” Lautenberg said. “Filibusters should happen on Capitol Hill, not from the Capital Grille,” he added.

President Obama will sign an executive order today “that ensures that existing limits on the federal funding of abortion remain in place under the new health care overhaul law.” The event, which “will be attended by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan and 12 of his anti-abortion Democratic House colleagues,” will be closed to the media.

And finally: There are now t-shirts inspired by Vice President Biden’s spontaneous remarks to President Obama at yesterday’s signing ceremony for health care reform.

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