ThinkFast: January 16, 2008

“Economic stimulus proposals favored by Democrats, including tax rebates [and] extended unemployment benefits…are cost-effective ways” to boost the economy, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). At the same time, however, “some options floated by Republicans such as extending President Bush’s tax cuts…may be less cost-effective.”

47.5 percent: Americans who believe a recession is likely. “The survey also found that barely more than one in five gave President George W. Bush’s administration high marks for economic policy, and many voters thought they would be better off financially with a Democrat in the White House.”

An audit by the Government Accountability Office questions the efficacy of sanctions against Iran. “U.S. officials and experts report that U.S. sanctions have specific impacts on Iran; however, the extent of such impacts is difficult to determine,” said the report states.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), who was appointed to replace Trent Lott, “last year obtained a $6 million earmark for a defense contractor whose executives were among his top campaign contributors” and were represented in the matter by Wicker’s former chief of staff.


In late 2005, the CIA’s then-director of clandestine operations, Jose Rodriguez, authorized the CIA station chief in Bangkok to destroy videotapes of harsh interrogation practices. “Rodriguez consulted CIA lawyers and officials, who told him that he had the legal right to order the destruction.”

President Bush wraps up his week-long tour of the Middle East today, “leaving many Mideast political observers mystified as to the purpose of the visit and doubtful that the president made inroads on his twin campaigns for Arab-Israeli peace and isolation for Iran.”

A congressionally-mandated panel of public and private experts yesterday “recommended more than doubling the [gasoline] tax” to “boost funding for transportation projects.” The panel’s suggestions “would take the U.S. down a more European path, with higher gas taxes and greater investment in high-speed rail and other modes of transportation.”

The conservative Heritage Foundation released its 2008 Index of Economic Freedom, in which the United States ranked fifth. Not mentioned in the report is the fact that the top four — Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, and Australia — all have universal health care, whereas U.S. businesses are forced to pay health care premiums that rose 98 percent between 2000 and 2007.

The House plans to vote today on a mine safety bill, which is meant to update regulations after August’s deadly Crandall Canyon Mine disaster. The White House, however, yesterday threatened to veto the bill because it would allegedly jeopardize its “achievements and efforts” already underway.


And finally: Katie Couric goes off-script. A new video shows views “behind the scenes at CBS News” and what Couric “had to say about the presidential candidates in between live shots from the New Hampshire primaries.” At one point she made “a cutting motion across her neck” when referring to former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and admitted “that she doesn’t know much about former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.” She also said that Cindy McCain had “weird blue eyes” that were “freaking [her] out a little.”

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.