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ThinkFast: April 19, 2010

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"ThinkFast: April 19, 2010"

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“With the Senate scheduled to begin debate on a financial overhaul bill this week, the fraud suit against the Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs has emboldened Democrats to ratchet up pressure on Republicans who oppose the Obama administration’s proposal.” The White House said yesterday that “President Obama would take his campaign for a regulatory overhaul on the road in coming weeks.”

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner expressed confidence that Democrats could gather enough Republican votes to pass a robust financial regulatory reform bill soon. “I believe that we are very close on this. That we agree on the vast bulk of the things necessary to end too big to fail [and] protect taxpayers in the future,” he said.

In an interview with ABC News, former President Bill Clinton said he made a mistake heeding the advice of former economic advisers Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers on whether to avoid regulating derivatives. “I think they were wrong and I think I was wrong to take” their advice, Clinton said.

Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was paid $17.8 million last year, “a $6.8 million raise over 2008 and almost double his compensation package in 2007. Blankenship also has a deferred compensation package valued at $27.2 million at the end of last year.”

A BBC World Service poll finds that “views of the US around the world have improved sharply over the past year.” The poll finds that for “the first time since the annual poll began in 2005, America’s influence in the world is now seen as more positive than negative.”

A new poll from the Pew Research Center finds that “nearly 8 in 10 Americans say they don’t trust the federal government and have little faith it can solve America’s ills.” The poll did find, however, that a majority of Americans supported the Obama administration exerting greater control over the economy during a recession.

Labor leaders in North Carolina, backed by SEIU, are “rushing to gather enough signatures to start a third party that they believe could help oust three Democratic congressmen.” The new political party, North Carolina First, is going after Reps. Larry Kissell, Heath Shuler, and Mike McIntyre, who sided with the GOP against the health care legislation.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged yesterday that he had written a classified memo to the White House questioning the long-term U.S. Iran policy, but said his goal had been only “to contribute to an orderly and timely decision-making process.” “With the administration’s pivot to a pressure track on Iran earlier this year, the memo identified next steps in our defense planning process,” Gates said.

First lady Michelle Obama said on Univision’s “Al Punto” yesterday that “immigration is still on the top” of the president’s political agenda. “I know that my husband is committed and understands that a comprehensive and smart immigration reform policy is going to benefit the United States and Mexico and other countries around the world,” said Obama.

And finally: Former Bush and Clinton FEMA officials “plan to press the Department of Homeland Security to stress the need for a public education campaign about the Mayan calendar’s prediction of the apocalypse in 2012.” While they don’t think the world will necessarily end then, they “see it as the perfect hook for a campaign about disaster preparedness.”

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