ThinkFast: December 6, 2010

“White House officials and Congressional Republicans said Sunday they were closing in on a deal” that would temporarily extend the Bush tax cuts for all Americans while also extending jobless benefits for millions of Americans. “We’re moving in that direction,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said of the proposed deal when asked about it yesterday on CBS News. “And we’re only moving there against my judgment.”

Worried that lawmakers won’t extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, financial firms like Goldman Sachs are discussing moving up bonus payouts from next year to this month, underscoring the industry’s focus on “protecting every dollar.” Without the extension, “a typical worker who earns a $1 million bonus would pay $40,000 to $50,000 more in taxes next year than this year, depending on base salary.”

The Republican National Committee will enter the 2012 presidential election “between $20 million and $25 million in debt” as a result of poor fundraising and financial mismanagement. “It’s the biggest debt the national committee ever had going into a presidential election cycle,” said former RNC General Counsel David Norcross.

“Military servicemembers are fighting what would be their lowest pay raise in decades,” a low 1.4 percent in 2011. The small figure comes after the House of Representatives approved a 1.9 percent raise, but that was reduced by Sen. Carl Levin’s (D-MI) Armed Services Committee. “This is garbage,” responded Marine Corps “Sgt. John Ellis, 26, a squad commander who recently returned from Afghanistan.”

A new poll conducted in all of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces found that over half of Afghans feel “U.S. and NATO forces should begin to leave the country in mid-2011 or earlier.” While residents in military-targeted provinces say security and living conditions have improved significantly, Afghans are “less confident” that the U.S. and its allies can provide security and are “more willing to negotiate with the Taliban.”

General David Petraeus told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he’s not “sure” there can be victory in Afghanistan by 2014. “I think — no commander ever is going to come out and say, ‘I’m confident that we can do this,’” Petraeus said. “I don’t think there are any sure things in this kind of endeavor. And I wouldn’t be honest with you and with the viewers if I didn’t convey that.”

The BBC reports that “a long list of key facilities around the world that the US describes as vital to its national security has been released by Wikileaks.” The State Department asked diplomats to identify all installations whose loss could affect U.S. national security, a list that includes pipelines, communication and transport hubs. BBC describes the cable as “probably the most controversial document yet” from WikiLeaks. Newt Gingrich said yesterday on Fox News Sunday that he is more likely to run for president in 2012 than not, but that he won’t make his final decision until late February or early March. He added that Mitt Romney is probably the current GOP frontrunner for the nomination in terms of campaign structure and that Mike Huckabee is the most popular.

And finally: Last week, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) warned that Americans will cancel their cable subscriptions when they “turn on CSPAN and see the Senate day after day doing nothing.” But cable providers can rest quietly, knowing that Congress has boldly acted to pass the CALM Act, which will mandate lower volumes for TV commercials. The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act passed its final hurdle in Congress late last week.

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