ThinkFast: September 30, 2010

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"ThinkFast: September 30, 2010"

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McDonald’s Corp. is threatening to drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new health care law requirement. Sending “one of the clearest indications that new rules may disrupt workers’ health plans,” McDonald’s claims the requirement to spend 80% to 85% of premiums on benefits would be “economically prohibitive” to continue offering coverage. (Update: Igor Volsky has an explanation of McDonald’s denial.)

The House yesterday approved a bill “to give up to $7.4 billion to workers sickened during the cleanup of the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” New York lawmakers said they would push the Senate to pass a similar bill once Congress returns for its lame-duck session.

CIA Director Leon Panetta told Pakistan’s intelligence community yesterday that the U.S. government is working to counter a terror plot to attack several public targets in European capitals. According to Panetta, the CIA learned of the attack — which was set to occur in November — after “capturing one of the prospective attackers en route from Pakistan’s FATA region.”

Pakistan blocked a vital supply route for U.S. and NATO troops yesterday, following a cross-border helicopter strike that killed three Pakistani soldiers. The blockade appears to be a major escalation in tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) “will not lift her hold on Office of Management and Budget director nominee Jack Lew,” continuing to demand that the Obama administration first lift its moratorium on offshore drilling. The senator met with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Tuesday, but there was no resolution of her issues with the moratorium.

Sen. Barbara Boxer and her Republican challenger, Carly Fiorina, traded charges that the other was too extreme for California during a debate last night. Boxer accused Fiorina of shipping jobs overseas as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and attacked her opposition to health care reform.

Yesterday, Senate Democrats “agreed to a Republican demand” to block President Obama from making recess appointments while Congress is out for midterm elections. In scheduling pro-forma sessions, Democrats prevent Republicans from forcing any of the 115 executive- and judicial-branch pending nominations from having to be resubmitted and reconfirmed in the Senate.

And finally: Obama said he’s “amused” by Jon Stewart’s rally. “I was amused – Jon Stewart, the host of The Daily Show, apparently he’s going to host a rally called something like ‘Americans in Favor of a Return to Sanity’ or something like that,” the president said. “And his point was, you know, 70 percent of the people…are just like you.”

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