ThinkFast: February 23, 2010

“Wall Street bonuses were up 17 percent to over $20 billion in 2009, the year taxpayers bailed out the financial sector after its meltdown,” according to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. “Total compensation at the largest securities firms grew beyond that figure” and profits could exceed “an unprecedented $55 billion last year,” nearly three times Wall Street’s record increase.

Dealing a blow to the campaign for a public option, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said yesterday that he opposed pushing it through reconciliation. “I’m probably not going to vote for that, although I’m strongly for the public option, because I think it creates, at a time when we really need as much bipartisan[ship]…as possible,” he said.

The EPA backed down in the face of “criticism over their recent finding that greenhouse gases endanger the public welfare.” The agency announced that regulation of such gases “would be phased in gradually and would not impose expensive new rules on most American businesses.” Only the largest sources of emissions will be subject to limits before 2013, while “smaller ones would not be regulated before 2016.”

Infuriating his party’s major donors, RNC Chairman Michael Steele is “spending twice as much as his recent predecessors” on private planes and paying more for “limousines, catering and flowers.” A Politico analysis found that the RNC’s “payments for charter flights doubled; the number of sedan contractors tripled, and meal expenses jumped from $306,000 to $599,000.”


Pakistani authorities have captured Mullah Abdul Kabir, a member of the Taliban’s “inner circle” and a “leading military commander against American forces” in Afghanistan. A Pakistani official said Kabir was detained “several days ago” in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier, but American authorities “could not confirm it.”

Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has briefed officials in Washington about a possible contingency plan to delay the withdrawal of all American combat forces from Iraq, which was set to occur by the end of August. Odierno cited “the prospects for political instability and increased violence as Iraqis hold national elections next month.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) scored a victory yesterday when Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) and four other Republicans helped his $15 billion jobs bill advance past a Republican filibuster. The 62–30 vote “marks the first time this year that Reid won support from the other side on a contentious bill.”

“In another blow to restrictions on political giving by business and labor interests,” Colorado’s top court rejected a voter-approved measure yesterday “to bar holders of large, no-bid government contracts from making campaign contributions.” In a 4–1 decision, the justices called Colorado’s Amendment 54 “so incomplete or riddled with omissions that it cannot be salvag(ed).”

And finally: J.D. Hayworth is a…former congresswoman?

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