ThinkFast: August 2, 2010

The Financial Times’ Ed Luce documents the “crisis of middle-class America.” Noting the “median wage stagnation” that has afflicted most American families, Luce writes, “the annual incomes of the bottom 90 per cent of US families have been essentially flat since 1973 — having risen by only 10 per cent in real terms over the past 37 years. That means most Americans have been treading water for more than a generation.”

The passage of the Affordable Care Act will save the Medicare program about $8 billion by the end of the year, “and $575 billion over the rest of the decade,” according to the Obama administration. The savings are anticipated to add “12 years of solvency” to Medicare’s trust fund for inpatient care.

Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, said on Meet the Press yesterday that “the slowing economic recovery in the U.S. feels like a ‘quasi-recession.’” He warned that a “double-dip” recession is possible “if home prices go down.”

“Driven by increasing anger at Democratic policies” and enabled by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, “business and conservative groups are preparing a flood of campaign money” for this Fall’s election. While labor unions and allied liberal groups also plan to spend, “the momentum and the new money” are coming from business and its allies.


Gen. David Petraeus, “who in July took over as head of the allied force in Afghanistan,” has issued revised airstrike rules that will ease restrictions on the ability for U.S. troops to call in strikes on suspected insurgents. The new rules make it “clear that troops are allowed to request airstrikes and artillery strikes against insurgents hiding in dilapidated buildings or other abandoned structures.”

President Obama will deliver a speech at the Disabled Veterans of America in Atlanta where he will “mark the formal end of the combat mission” in Iraq. “As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end,” Obama says in his prepared remarks. “ And that is exactly what we are doing — as promised, on schedule.”

Engineers plan to begin a “static kill” operation today on BP’s blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico, which will pump in mud and then cement to plug the well. The operation “carries no certainty,” and BP engineers still plan to use relief wells to cap the well for good, but the company says the static kill will “make it even easier for the crews drilling the relief well” to permanently seal the well.

The White House Correspondents Association has granted Fox News a “much-coveted front-row seat in the White House briefing room.” The seat was previously occupied by the AP, which “has been moved to the front-row center seat previously occupied by Helen Thomas.” Bloomberg News and NPR had also both lobbied for Thomas’ seat and now remain in the second row.

And finally: The Joe Biden bobblehead.

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