ThinkFast: April 5, 2011

Republicans and Democrats must reach agreement on a deal to fund the government by tonight “if it is to work its way through both chambers and reach President Obama’s desk before the government runs out of money Friday.” Republicans have floated a proposal for a one-week continuation of funding, provided that Democrats agree to fund the Pentagon for the rest of the year.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned lawmakers yesterday of the need to raise the federal debt limit, which is projected to be reached by May 16. Geithner said that even if “extraordinary measures” were taken to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its obligations, the debt limit would have to be raised by July 8 or there would be an “unthinkable” default.

Consumer prices are rising at a 5.7 percent annual rate while wages remain stagnant, creating a “pernicious” form of inflation that is growing “harder for policymakers to address.” While central banks would typically raise interest rates to combat inflation, the U.S. is hesitant to do so.

“U.S. human rights groups reacted angrily to the Justice Department’s announcement” that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed would be tried in a military commission in Guantanamo Bay and not civilian courts. The move is “devastating for the rule of law and greatly undermines America’s standing abroad,” said the ACLU’s Anthony Romero.

The Obama administration announced that it is prepared to veto any legislation that threatens net neutrality. The administration says it is dedicated to “keeping the Internet free and open.”

The Federal Aviation Administration announced it will require extensive inspections of older-model Boeing 737s, after the fuselage of a Southwest Airlines flight ripped open in midair this weekend. Recent, similar problems on other flights have “baffled safety experts who said the industry assumed it had successfully resolved the problem of metal fatigue.”

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has less than two weeks to decide if he’ll try to defeat proposed regulations that would allow gay couples to adopt children. The new regulations would mandate that gay singles and couples have access to state-licensed faith-based groups that sponsor adoptions.

U.S. forces in Afghanistan commander Gen. David Petraeus is expected to leave his job by early fall and may then take over the directorship of the CIA, NPR reports. Leon Panetta, the agency’s current chief, would then likely takeover for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has said for sometime that he will retire this year.

And finally: In his ongoing quest to appear interesting, likely GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty referenced the entire “triumvirate of pop culture” in a single speech last week. Speaking to Iowa college students, Pawlenty first joked that a bald man had “Justin Bieber hair.” He then moved on to say that while Republicans don’t have “tiger blood,” like Charlie Sheen, they plan to do “a lot of winning.” Finally, the most strained remark yet, Pawlenty said, “If this was a Lady Gaga song, the relationship between the youth vote and Barack Obama would be ‘Bad Romance.'”

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