ThinkFast: June 16, 2010

In an address from the Oval Office last night, President Obama urged Americans to support clean energy legislation, saying that BP’s Gulf oil spill is “the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now.” Obama likened the push for a clean energy society to emergency preparations for WWII and the mission to the moon.

Though President Obama “pleaded Tuesday night for Congress to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation,” Politico writes that “he may have put the dagger into his long-sought plans for a cap on greenhouse gas emissions by opening the door for alternatives.” Obama never used the words “carbon,” “greenhouse gases,” “global warming” or “cap and trade,” but he did give “primetime props to Senate proposals” for a nationwide renewable electricity standard and increased energy efficiency.

“Nearly half of all Americans disapprove of the way President Barack Obama is handling the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,” according to a new AP-GfK survey released hours before Obama’s Oval Office address. At 48 percent, disapproval of Obama’s handling of the spill is “up 15 percentage points from a month ago.”

Senate Democrats are considering doing away with an extra $25 per week in unemployment benefits — a measure included in the Recovery Act — and blocking a cut in Medicare payments to doctors in order to attract Republicans to a “a stalled package of tax breaks, tax increases on the affluent and safety-net spending.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has scheduled a test vote for today.

After asserting that Obama favors “the black person” by default, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is getting ostracized by his allies. The Northern Colorado Tea Party canceled an appearance by King, and Republican congressional candidate Cory Gardner canceled a scheduled fundraiser with King.

The Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating eight lawmakers — five Republicans and three Democrats — “who held fundraisers within 48 hours of a major House vote on a Wall Street reform bill or received substantial donations from business people with a financial stake in the bill.”

Ratings company Fitch Ratings Ltd. is predicting that most borrowers who received lower mortgage payments under the Obama Administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) “will default within 12 months.” Fitch is predicting the default rate will be between 65 and 75 percent.

The “Israeli cabinet is today expected to agree to a plan to ease off the blockade on Gaza,” following negotiations with Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair. Israel is expected to allow in construction materials and replace its list of approved items for the territory with a list of items banned from it.

Obama appointed Michael Bromwich yesterday as the new “watchdog for offshore oil drilling.” Bromwich will run the Minerals Management Service, an agency “under fire” for “failing to adequately monitor offshore oil and gas development.” Obama charged Bromwich with “build[ing] an organization that acts as the oil industry’s watchdog — not its partner.”

And finally: For crashing a White House state dinner, Michaele Salahi gets rewarded by the Bravo network with a slot on “The Real Housewives of D.C.

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