ThinkFast: April 30, 2010

The U.S. economy grew at 3.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter of this year, marking three straight quarters of growth. “Consumer spending growth has remained solid thanks to more hiring and better financial conditions,” said Aaron Smith, a senior economist at Moody’s Economy.com.

White House senior adviser David Axelrod told ABC today that President Obama will not allow any new offshore oil drillinguntil we find out what happened” in the Gulf of Mexico spill. Axelrod said no new drilling will proceed until “there is an adequate review of what happened here and what is being proposed elsewhere.”

Louisiana health officials have ordered air quality testing after a “pungent fuel smell” blanketed “much of coastal Louisiana” and New Orleans. People along Florida’s Gulf Coast also noticed an “oily odor” that “leaves a bitter taste in your mouth” permeating the air. Officials say the smell could be from the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and are warning that people may experience “nausea, vomiting or headaches.”

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) is calling on top officials from ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, BP and Shell to testify before a House committee on energy and climate change, to address the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and climate change legislation. “From the health of our economy to the health of our environment, it’s time for the American public to hear from the oil companies,” Markey said.

Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star game is scheduled to be played in Phoenix this year. But Arizona’s passage of an extreme anti-immigrant law is jeopardizing the state’s hosting rights. “I think Major League Baseball, with 40 percent Latino ballplayers at all levels, should make a statement that it will not hold its All-Star Game in a state that discriminates against 40 percent of their people,” said Rep. José Serrano (D-NY).

Lawsuits were filed in Phoenix and Tucson yesterday challenging Arizona’s new immigration law. “This law sanctions police officers to use racial profiling in dealing with the immigrant community,” said National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders chairman Miguel Rivera. A Tucson city patrol officer said the law “would seriously impede law enforcement investigations.”

Top Senate Democrats led by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) laid out the contours of a proposed immigration reform bill and invited Republicans to join them in pursuing it. The outline includes enhancing border security, creating a fraud-proof Social Security card, and allowing undocumented immigrants to stay legally after admitting wrongdoing, paying fees and taxes, and passing a criminal background check.

A Center for Responsive Politics review of recently filed lobbying reports indicates that “companies, trade associations, unions and other groups spent nearly $1 billion on lobbying during the first three months of 2010.” The $903 million spent in the first quarter “is larger than overall lobbying expenses in three out of four quarters last year, and it represents an 11 percent increase” from the first three months of 2009.

“Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into trading at Goldman Sachs, raising the possibility of criminal charges against the Wall Street giant.” The preliminary investigation by prosecutors for the Southern District of New York comes two weeks after the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil fraud suit against the Wall Street firm.

And finally: U.S. troops in Afghanistan remake Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s hit songTelephone.”

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