ThinkFast: March 11, 2011

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"ThinkFast: March 11, 2011"

E-mails released yesterday show NPR’s recently departed CEO Vivian Schiller refused a donation from a phony group of supposed Muslim activists, led by James O’Keefe. When NPR could not verify that the group was in fact a legit non-profit, they asked for paperwork before going further — something O’Keefe could not provide.

The White House announced yesterday that the U.S. will send a government aid team into rebel-held areas in Libya and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with representatives of Libya’s transition council next week. Yet the U.S. will not recognize the council as Libya’s legitimate government, a move France took earlier this week.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) dinged Tea Party followers who believe “cutting waste, fraud and abuse, foreign aid and NPR” is sufficient to balance the budget. Paul said “it just doesn’t work like that.” While failing to reveal specific plans for cuts, Ryan said “fundamental changes” to Medicare and “health care entitlements” were necessary to “get this debt crisis under control.”

Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing examining “how a for-profit higher education company can put profits ahead of education.” Noting that Bridgepoint Education gets 86% federal funding while most students drop out due to debt, Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) slammed the for-profit model as “highly disturbing” from “an ethical perspective.”

A House subcommittee voted to strip the EPA of its power to regulate greenhouse gases, “chipping away at a central pillar of the Obama administration’s evolving climate and energy strategy.” The vote was divided along party lines, with Republicans and their business allies — who claim global warming is an unproven theory — accusing the administration of taxing industry too heavily.

An image of the flaming Twin Towers provided a backdrop to Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) hearings into Muslim radicalization yesterday. King re-hung the picture after Democrats took it down while they were in control of the committee.

The head of the SEC campaigned for a larger budget yesterday, warning lawmakers that it could not properly carry out its duties, enhanced under the Wall Street reform law, without a larger staff. The agency said the move would not affect the budget deficit because the money would come from fees paid by industry.

And finally: Conservatives New York Times columnist David Brooks doesn’t much care for the potential Republican presidential candidates, and in particular, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “I wouldn’t let that guy run a 7-Eleven, let alone a country,” Brooks said in an interview with Time.

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