ThinkFast: October 23, 2009

In a meeting with President Obama yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) reportedly pushed for a public option that would allow states to opt-out of the program. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly doesn’t have the votes for a robust public option. Meanwhile, one Democratic source said Obama appeared to prefer a “trigger” option.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) rejected the public option. “A public option at the forefront really does put the government in a disproportionate position with respect to the industry,” she said. Snowe also indicated that health reform may not be completed by the end of this year.

Defense contractors are lobbying Sen. Dan Inouye (D-HI) to strip Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) anti-rape amendment from the defense appropriations bill. The amendment would withhold defense funding from companies barring their employees from taking sexual abuse cases to court. “The defense contractors have been storming [Inouye’s] office,” said one source.

The Senate voted 68 to 29 yesterday to “extend new federal protections to people who are victims of violent crime because of their sex or sexual orientation.” The hate crimes measure, “attached to an essential military-spending bill,” now needs the signature of President Obama, who has said he will sign it.

The Federal Reserve announced “that it would crack down on pay packages that encouraged bankers to take excessive risks, but officials acknowledged that the plan might not reduce the biggest paychecks on Wall Street.” The announcement coincides with the Obama administration’s decision “to cut the pay of many high earners at the seven companies that received the most taxpayer help.”

A House committee yesterday approved the creation of the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The agency “would have the power to write new consumer protection rules for a host of activities involving loans or credit and would have the ability to ban products and business practices that it determined were ‘unfair, deceptive or abusive.’”

Fifty-seven percent of Americans believe in global warming, a number that has decreased 20 points in three years. Matt Yglesias attributes the decline to successful campaigns by right-wing leaders to bring Republican voters in line with their own warped beliefs.

WellPoint, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, lashed out at congressional health care legislation Thursday with a new report claiming that health care legislation will increase premiums across the country. “This is akin to the tobacco companies commissioning another study claiming nicotine isn’t addictive and cigarettes don’t cause cancer,” said one adviser to the Senate Finance Committee.

Iranian and Israeli negotiators attended a conference on nuclear disarmament last month in Egypt, “but Iranian officials Thursday denied news reports that the two archenemies engaged in direct dialogue at the meeting amid conflicting accounts of heated exchanges.”

And finally: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) had a “very serious interview on health care reform” on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal program yesterday. But toward the end, he tried to “lighten things up a bit” and said to host Paul Orgel, “I love Washington Journal. I always wonder, as you host, if you’re wearing any pants under there.” Weiner then “leaned forward a bit to check, noting, ‘and I want to make it very clear, Paul is wearing pants.’ “Definitely. We all do,” said Orgel.

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