ThinkFast: December 10, 2010

Many major donors are saying they may withhold funds from President Obama’s re-election campaign because of the recent tax-cut compromise, the Los Angeles Times reports. “He’s got many great qualities, but he is not a fighter,” said one wealthy donor. “I’ve met with many donors and the level of disappointment is extreme.”

According to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax cut deal will add $857 billion to the federal debt over ten years. The two-year tax cuts for the wealthy will cost the government $407.6 billion, but the total effect of the tax provisions alone will add up to $801.3 billion in foregone revenue over the next ten years.

The Hill is maintaining a whip count of House Democrats’ positions on Obama’s tax deal. The paper lists 61 “Firm No” votes, 5 “Leaning No” votes, and 7 “Leaning Yes” votes. It also notes that Republican Rep. Jeff Flake (AZ) firmly opposes the deal.

Obama is considering a push to overhaul the U.S. tax code to lower rates and increase revenues in what would be “his first major effort to begin addressing the long-term growth of the national debt.” Obama has directed his economic team “to review options for closing loopholes and simplifying income taxes for corporations and individuals, though the study of the corporate tax system is farther along.”


“High-profile conservatives” are upset with House Republicans for electing Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), dubbed the “prince of pork” for his history of earmarking, as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Longtime conservative activist Richard Viguerie said the placement “should cause all conservatives and Tea Partiers to doubt how serious the Republican leadership is about cleaning up” Congress.

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) is blocking a key science position in the Obama administration because of the recently announced decision to halt all new offshore oil drilling in areas of the eastern Gulf and Atlantic seaboard. Vitter wants Dr. Scott Doney to testify about the policy before Vitter will release his hold and allow him to be confirmed as chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Attorney General Holder is urging the Senate to drop a provision in a spending bill that passed the House on Wednesday that would ban transfers of Guantanamo Bay prisoners” to the United States. In a letter to senators, Holder called the provision “an extreme and risky encroachment on the authority of the Executive Branch.”

Yesterday, the Senate GOP derailed the 9/11 health care bill that gives federal medical benefits to first-responders sick from Ground Zero dust. In a 57–42 vote, all 41 Senate Republicans present, including a few who favored the bill, stuck to the filibuster threat in a move New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) called “a tragic example of partisan politics trumping patriotism.”

And finally: President Obama helped try to light a boat on fire with mirrors on the Discovery Channel show Mythbusters Wednesday night. Hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage enlisted the commander-in-chief’s help to test the myth that “Archimedes designed a solar weapon that focused the sun’s rays with such ferocity, it set an invading Roman Navy ablaze.” While they failed to light the ship, Obama, who said he is “a big fan” of the show, used the opportunity to encourage kids to study science.

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