ThinkFast: April 11, 2011

This week, President Obama will unveil a plan to reduce the nation’s debt that includes tax increases on the rich and spending reductions. He will push for savings in Medicare and Medicaid while rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Obama will look for cuts in “all corners of government,” according to senior adviser David Plouffe.

After dipping during the recession, CEO salaries at major corporations are growing again at record rates. The median CEO pay in 2010 rose to $9.6 million, a 12 percent increase over 2009, as American businesses turned profits at the fastest rates in 60 years. The nation’s unemployment rate, meanwhile, is at 8.8 percent.

Newsweek’s Peter Boyer writes that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) still faces a long road toward some approximation of a “new normal.” While Giffords has been improving by “leaps and bounds,” interviews with people close to Giffords reveals that “a more measured assessment of her progress is warranted.”

At a fundraiser this weekend, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that there’s “not a chance” that President Obama will get “a clean bill” to raise the debt ceiling “without something really, really big attached to it.” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) concurred, insisting Obama’s “going to have to meet Congress halfway” or “we’re not going to have any changes” to the debt ceiling.


After meetings with African Union mediators, Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi has said that he will cease hostilities and allow outside forces into his country to keep the peace. The Libyan opposition is hesitant to endorse the deal saying that it wants Qaddafi to step down.

Gas “prices have jumped nearly 20 cents over the past two weeks,” as the “average price of a gallon of self-serve regular is $3.76.” Tuscon, Arizona, is the major city with the lowest average gas price, at $3.41, and the San Francisco area is highest, with $4.13.

According to an upcoming Cornell University study, natural gas produced by “hydraulic fracturing” — or “fracking” — “contributes to global warming as much as coal, or even more.” Though natural gas enjoys broad political support, the study finds that “the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater” than coal and oil when burned for energy.

Sarah Palin followed fellow reality TV star Donald Trump’s birther lead this weekend, even though she said she thinks President Obama was born in the U.S. “Obviously there is something there that the president doesn’t want people to see on that birth certificate, that he sees going to great lengths to make sure it isn’t shown,” she said on Fox News yesterday.

And finally: After Congress came to an agreement on funding the government, President Obama surprised tourists at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday afternoon with an unannounced visit, perhaps to make sure it was still open. Obama shook hands with tourists and spoke briefly to the crowd.

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