ThinkFast: April 19, 2011

The credit-rating firm Standard & Poor’s changed its long-term outlook on U.S. Treasury securities to “negative” from “stable” due to its lack of faith that political leaders will agree on a deficit reduction package. Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee said that the outlook was based on a “political judgment” that doesn’t deserve “too much weight.”

Protesters rallied outside Bank of America’s headquarters in North Carolina yesterday, demanding that the banking giant pay its taxes. Bank of America has completely avoided paying federal corporate income taxes the past two years, exploiting the tax code’s network of loopholes, deductions, and exemptions.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) yesterday vetoed both the state’s “birther” bill and a bill that would have allowed guns on college campuses. The birther bill would have forced presidential candidates to present long-form birth certificates or other documents to get on the state’s presidential ballot. Brewer: “This is a bridge too far.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), the new head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), is pushing for screenings of all gun purchases. Calling current law “outrageous” because it allows people to buy guns without background checks, Wasserman Schultz is sponsoring a proposal to require checks for all arms sales.

President Obama will hold a meeting today with current and former elected officials as well as business and faith groups to revive the possibility of immigration reform. “The question is going to be are we going to be able to find some Republicans who can partner with me and others to get this done once and for all instead of using it as a political football,” he said yesterday ahead of the meeting.

Newly released British government memos reveal that plans “to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world’s largest oil companies the year before” the invasion. Two of the companies mentioned in the memos, BP and Shell, had repeatedly denied that they had discussed Iraq’s oil with the British government.

Creditors would have fared much better in the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers under regulations of the Dodd-Frank bill, according to an FDIC report released yesterday. The FDIC estimated that creditors would have received 97 cents for each dollar of claims under Dodd-Frank, as opposed to 21 cents per dollar under current negotiations.

And finally: Real estate mogul Donald Trump knows any potential presidential campaign needs to smell nice, which is why he recently filed for a patent on “SUCCESS BY TRUMP,” a line of cologne, after-shave lotions, and bubble bath, Gawker reports. Perhaps the bathroom products are an attempt to win over his daughter, whom he remarked about in 2006 as having “a very nice figure.” “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

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