ThinkFast: June 15, 2010

In a new USA Today/Gallup poll, 71 percent of Americans say that President Obama “has not been tough enough in his dealings with BP.” Fifty-nine percent say that BP “should pay for all financial losses resulting from the Gulf Coast oil spill, including wages of workers put out of work, even if those payments ultimately drive the company out of business.”

During a visit to Mississippi and Alabama yesterday, Obama said, “I am confident that we’re going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before.” He also urged tourists to visit the Gulf, stating, “a lot of beaches that are not yet affected or will not be affected.” Today, he visits the Pensacola Beach area in the Florida panhandle.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) “will force top oil executives to defend or condemn industry practices and profits” in hearings today. “I’m not sure the industry has grasped how much this is going to hurt them in the long run,” one energy lobbyist told Politico. “They’re still seeing this as a BP problem. That’s not a good place for them to be.”

Following a CAP recommendation, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration plans to use its legal authority to ensure BP pays its claims. “The president has the legal authority to compel them to do so and if they don’t, he will,” Gibbs said.

President Obama and congressional Democrats are planning “a major new push for a broad global warming bill, fueled in part by public outrage over the BP disaster.” In a briefing to top officials in Congress, Democratic pollster Joel Benenson argues that BP’s oil spill “is intensifying the public’s desire for clean energy investments and increased regulation on corporate polluters.”

U.S. CentCom chief Gen. David Petraeus will appear at congressional committee hearings today and tomorrow to field questions about the Afghan war amidst growing unease with the conflict. “I think we are all concerned,” said Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA).

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday that legal immigrants “convicted of minor drug offenses should not face automatic deportation,” which will allow thousands to argue for leniency from immigration judges. In his opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens argued that such cases were not “what Congress had in mind when it mandated automatic deportation for any immigrant convicted of an aggravated felony.”

Sharron Angle, GOP candidate for U.S. Senate in Nevada, suggested to a local NPR affiliate last month that the Department of Veterans Affairs should be privatized. When asked if the VA should cover prescription drugs costs, Angle said, “No, not if you’re working towards a privatized system.”

Florida governor and U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Crist (I) has shifted his position on U.S.-Cuba relations, now favoring policies that allow Cuban Americans to travel more freely to the island nation. “Crist seems open to listening to different points of view since he’s moved toward the middle,” said Maria Aral, of ABC Charters, a company that charters trips to Cuba.

And finally: The 2010 World Cup, brick by brick.

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