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ThinkFast: February 11, 2011

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in a televised address yesterday that he would cede some of his power to Vice President Omar Suleiman, but declined to leave office, as many earlier news reports indicated he would. His defiance “stunned and angered” hundreds of thousands of protesters in Cairo, who responded with chants of “revolution, revolution.” Al Arabiya reports Mubarak and his family left Cairo today for an unknown destination.

Conservative mega-fundraisers (and mega-polluters) Charles and David Koch plan to contribute and steer $88 million towards the 2012 elections, sources told Politico. Their operation “seems to some to be emerging as a more ideological counterweight to the independent Republican political machine conceived by Bush-era GOP operatives Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie.”

Conservative activists are demanding Mitt Romney apologize for signing a comprehensive health reform law in Massachusetts. “Defending his law in Massachusetts is a misstep,” said Tom Gaitens, co-founder of a Tea Party in Florida. “Admit you made a mistake and let’s move forward.” “What he did at the state level is what Obama did at the federal level,” a former Romney adviser acknowledged.

“House Republican leaders said Thursday that they would accede to demands from conservatives and dig deeper into the federal budget for billions of dollars in additional savings this year,” demonstrating the power of newly-elected Tea Party Republicans. The pressure from more conservative Republicans is expected to bring the planned cuts from $35 billion to $60 billion.

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A new poll finds that 35 percent of Americans “consider unemployment to be the most important problem the country faces,” the highest level since 1983. While Democrats are more concerned by joblessness than Republicans, both shared the second highest concern about “the economy more broadly.”

The Obama administration released a white paper this morning laying out its plan to restructure the housing finance market. The strategy lays out options for winding down the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and moving to a more privatized mortgage market. “Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, have offered no specific plan of their own.”

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) joined Democrats in opposing President Obama’s $2.5 billion cut to LIHEAP, a home heating fuel assistance for low-income households. “With Massachusetts residents getting pounded by brutal winter storms, cutting…funding is a nonstarter for me,” he said.

And finally, NASA has announced that it will be naming its new spacecraft heading to Mars after slain Egyptian protester Sally Zahran. “This step represents transferring the dreams of Egyptian youth from a small stretch of earth to the enormous expanse of space,” said NASA researcher Dr. Essam Mohamed Haji.

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