ThinkFast: May 6, 2011

The new unemployment report released by the Labor Department this morning finds that 244,000 jobs were added last month, the third straight solid month of job growth. But, the unemployment rate ticked up to 9 percent. Jobs gains for February and March were also revised upwards.

The Associated Press reports that CEO pay at the nation’s largest companies actually now exceeds that of pre-recession levels. The “typical pay package for the head of a company in the Standard & Poor’s 500 was $9 million in 2010.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the GOP Medicare privatization proposal might make seniors “die sooner” because many more who can’t afford it would likely go without needed health care. Seniors “will run out of money very quickly,” she told a Congressional hearing yesterday.

According to a set of handwritten notes picked up by the Navy SEALs, Al Qaeda planned to attack the U.S. train network “possibly on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.” A Department of Homeland Security bulletin yesterday said it isn’t clear if there’s been further planning since early 2010 as the notes offered “vague” and “aspirational” rather than concrete information.

After suspending them in March, Fox News officially terminated its contracts with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Sen. Rick Santorum this week as the two Republicans weigh presidential bids. The termination “ratchets up pressure” on Fox host and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) to announce his decision, but Fox News is denying reports that it’s given him a deadline of the end of May to decide.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and fifteen other Republican senators introduced a resolution that would merge the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency into one government agency. Burr’s office claims the merger would net “$3 billion in savings in 2012 alone.”

On Thursday, 44 Republican senators stood together to oppose a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and vowed to block any presidential nominee to the new agency unless their demands are met. Republicans were careful not to attack the popular mission of the CFPB, instead focusing their attacks on its “unfettered authority.”

Yesterday’s first debt limit meeting between Vice President Biden and Republican and Democratic House leaders produced many pledges of good will, but no specifics. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Assistant Leader James Clyburn (D-SC) both expressed optimism about the prospects for striking a deal, but did not identify any possible areas of compromise.

Last night during the GOP presidential debate in South Carolina, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said that states should have the right to legalize gay marriage. “I think the government should just be out of it,” he said, adding, “if we want to have something to say about marriage it should be at the state level and not at the federal government.”

And finally: Perhaps in a bid to outdo Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker in hands-on constituent services, a German mayor rescued a man trapped in a women’s prison. The man “became trapped” in the prison “after mistaking it for a shortcut to a nearby park.” Hildesheim Mayor Henning Blum heard the man’s cries for help while passing and notified his police.

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