ThinkFast: November 13, 2009

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others accused of involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks will be put on criminal trial in New York. The move is “the first set of decisions before a Monday deadline on how to deal with the more than 200 prisoners remaining” at Gitmo.

White House Counsel Greg Craig is expected to announce his resignation “as early as Friday,” ending an “embattled tenure in which he struggled to lead the closure” of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Craig will be replaced by Bob Bauer, “a prominent Democratic lawyer who is Obama’s personal attorney.”

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“President Barack Obama plans to announce in next year’s State of the Union address that he wants to focus extensively on cutting the federal deficit in 2010 — and will downplay other new domestic spending beyond jobs programs.” The administration plans to look for “ways to cut spending, reduce the growth in costs in other areas besides health care, and find ways to get Republicans to share the risk.”

The Treasury Department reported yesterday that the federal deficit for October hit a record $176.4 billion, “even higher than the $150 billion imbalance that economists expected.” The deficit for FY2009, which ended on Sept. 30, “set an all-time record in dollar terms of $1.42 trillion.”

A Goldman Sachs study conducted last month concluded that the passage of any health reform legislation would restrain health insurance company profits. HuffPost’s Sam Stein writes, “Simply put: health care reform is going to hurt their bottom line. No less a prestigious voice than Goldman Sachs is telling them so.”

New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that an estimated 3,900 Americans were killed by H1N1 between April to October. “What we are seeing in 2009 is unprecedented,” CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters.

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President Obama is planning to find an approach to the war in Afghanistan that includes ending U.S. involvement in the country. “An exit strategy is as important as ramping up troops,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates “unleashed a torrent on his plane on Thursday morning about leaks” concerning national security and Afghanistan. “I have been appalled by the amount of leaking that has been going on in this process,’’ said Gates. “Frankly if I found out with high confidence anybody who was leaking in the Department of Defense, who that was, that would probably be a career-ender.”

The Federal Reserve will begin “banning banks from charging many overdraft fees unless customers sign up for the service, an unprecedented move that comes as a wave of consumer reform sweeps Washington.” The new rules take effect July 1, 2010, and “cover overdrafts from ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases, which account for roughly half of overdrawn transactions.”

And finally: Levi Johnson is giving President Obama “props” for the job he’s doing leading the nation. “I don’t really pay attention to politics now that Sarah [Palin] is gone,” he said, “but I think he is doing a lot better than Sarah would have done, so I give him props.”

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