ThinkFast: November 17, 2010

According to The Hill’s sources, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) may introduce a tax package that includes a two-year extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts. With Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) signaling support for a temporary extension of all the tax cuts, Baucus said he expects “to get down to serious discussions” on his proposal by the end of this week.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said yesterday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) personally assured him that cap-and-trade climate legislation “is dead.” Manchin, who was sworn in on Monday and has been a major critic of the bill, said he had a “heart-to-heart” with Reid, explaining, “I got his commitment that cap-and-trade will definitely not be on the agenda.”

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) announced a last-minute move to block a vote on the New START treaty after long negotiations with the White House — a move that “blindsided and angered” the administration, which pledges to continue trying to pass the treaty. “Failure to pass the New Start treaty this year would endanger our national security,” Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Mark Udall (D-CO) want the Senate to vote on their plan to impose an earmark moratorium until Oct. 1, 2013. While Senate Republicans already adopted a resolution, Coburn wants a floor vote because the ban “doesn’t bind anybody” from inserting earmarks, or what McCaskill referred to as “sprinkling fairy dust” on legislation.


NATO’s military drawdown is expected to start in 2011 but continue well into 2015, said Mark Sedwill, the top civilian NATO representative in Afghanistan. “The end of 2014 does not mean that the mission is over, but the mission changes. It’s the inflection point, if you like,” Sedwill said.

RNC political director Gentry Collins resigned yesterday in a letter sharply criticizing chairman Michael Steele. Collins singled out Steele’s lack of fundraising prowess, saying that most of the money that came in was “reflective of the anti-Obama/Pelosi/Reid wave,” not Steele’s efforts. Meanwhile, the Hill reports that GOP leaders “have started to clamor” to oust Steele from the top RNC position.

FBI director Robert Mueller traveled to Silicon Valley yesterday to meet with several technology firms, including Google and Facebook, about a proposal to make it easier to wiretap Internet users. Mueller wants expanded laws requiring broadband and network providers to immediately comply when presented with a court wiretapping order. Numerous newly elected Republicans, facing pressure from the Tea Party movement, say that they will immediately push for a vote to repeal the recently passed health care bill. “It’s critical that we have that vote,” said Rep.-elect Morgan Griffith (R-VA). “I think we need to tell the folks that we’re doing what they sent us here to do.”

And finally: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) continued his infatuation with the Jersey Shore’s Snooki, tweeting Monday night, “Happy birthday @Sn00ki.” “Thabk you Johnny ! 🙂 xox,” she incoherently responded. Snooki and McCain became Twitter buddies after she publicly expressed her disapproval of a tax on tanning beds included in President Obama’s health reform law, saying McCain never would have done that if he were president.