ThinkFast: June 25, 2010

DoddFrank talk

Congressional negotiators reached agreement “to reconcile competing versions of the biggest overhaul of financial regulations since the Great Depression.” Though “furious and expensive lobbying efforts by businesses and financial trade groups” produced “some specific exceptions to new regulations, by and large the bill’s financial regulations not only remained strong but in some cases gained strength.”

BP said today that “it has spent $2.35 billion to date to clean up, contain and pay out claims and grants to the states on the Gulf of Mexico that have been impacted by the U.S.’s largest oil spill.” The oil giant said it is still “too early to quantify other potential costs and liabilities associated with the incident.”

Yesterday, Fox News host Shep Smith told Fox legal analyst Andrew Napolitano that he was “grossed out” by Napolitano’s attempts to blame the government for the oil spill. “How does it feel to be standing up for BP?” Smith asked Napolitano.

House Democrats passed “a far-reaching campaign finance reform measure” yesterday in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. The DISCLOSE Act would “impose stricter financial disclosure requirements on corporations and most interest groups…and would restrict political activity for companies that receive federal contracts” or received TARP money.

President Obama is facing increasing skepticism among members of his own party in the House over the war in Afghanistan. Thirty House members, including five Republicans, signed onto a letter sent by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) asking that no more war supplementals are voted on until their concerns about the need for an exit strategy are assured.

Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Ahmed Yusuf criticized the selection of Gen. David Petraeus, saying he is “not smarter than McChrystal.” Yusuf added, “Also, his losing consciousness last week in an investigative hearing before the members of the U.S. Congress brought his physical competence and his courage into question.”

An investigator in Anchorage, AK “has determined former Gov. Sarah Palin’s legal defense fund broke state ethics law and said Palin has agreed to settle the matter by having the trust return more than $386,000 to donors.” The investigator said “the fund, which was set up while Palin was still governor, inappropriately said it was the ‘official website’ of Palin, and made reference to her work in public office.”

A bill to extend unemployment aid “teetered on the edge of collapse” on Thursday after Senate Republicans and “lone Democrat” Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) “joined forces to filibuster the bill.” Despite a $100 billion cutback to appease “Republicans’ demands,” Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “saw little chance of winning” the 60 votes needed and will “move on to other business next week.”

Congress overwhelmingly approved “tough new unilateral sanctions aimed at squeezing Iran’s energy and banking sectors” yesterday. The Senate passed the sanctions 99-0 while the House followed a few hours later with 408-8 vote, sending the bill to Obama for signing. The measure “penalizes” companies that supply gas to Iran, as well as international banks that deal with the Revolutionary Guard.

And finally: Yesterday, President Obama took his counterpart, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, out to lunch in Arlington, VA, to sample a staple of American cuisine: a cheeseburger. While Obama ordered a traditional cheeseburger, Medvedev added jalepenos, mushrooms, and onions to his. Later, at a press conference, Medvedev said of his experience at Ray’s Hell Burger, “Probably it’s not quite healthy, but it’s very tasty. And you can feel the Spirit of America.”

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