ThinkFast: October 8, 2009

Last night on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow reported that “two major power-brokers on the left” are urging the Democratic leadership to strip the leadership titles of any Democratic Senator who supports a Republican attempt to block a vote on health care reform.

Even if Democrats pass health reform with a public option, it won’t be up and running until 2013. Former Gov. Howard Dean suggested that Democrats should open up eligibility to Medicare for people over age 50 so that a “‘certain mass’ of people will already have benefit from health reform” by the 2010 elections.

House progressives said yesterday they have enough votes to pass their preferred version of health care reform. Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) revealed in a caucus meeting that her internal whip count shows 208 votes for a health care bill with a “robust” public option, only ten votes short of passing the bill.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has forwarded a request for more troops in Afghanistan to President Obama that “outlines several options ranging up to 40,000 troops added to the 68,000 now stationed or headed there.” Gates made no recommendation of his own regarding additional troops.


Though 8 in 10 Americans “say weakening terrorists’ ability to stage attacks on the United States is ‘an important reason’ to stay in Afghanistan, the American people are split on whether President Obama should send more troops, says a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. 48 percent are in favor while 45 percent are opposed.

According to a new poll by the nonpartisan Consumers Union, “[m]any Americans have been putting off doctors’ visits, forgoing medical tests and taking expired medications to save money over the past year.” Fifty-one percent said they “faced difficult health care choices in the past year.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who worked for months in the “Gang of Six,” released a statement last night “slamming the amended Finance health care reform bill, saying the legislation should be judged on more than simply whether it is deficit-neutral.” “The bill spends nearly a $1 trillion and still leaves 25 million people without health insurance,” said Grassley. “That’s not much bang for the buck.”

Administration officials announced yesterday evening that President Obama plans to name an openly gay lawyer to serve as his ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. The nominee, David Huebner, would be the first openly gay ambassador under Obama if confirmed by the Senate.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) has placed a hold on M. Patricia Smith, President Obama’s nominee to be the Labor Department’s top enforcement official. Republicans are objecting to statements she made at her confirmation hearing and her “close ties” to New York unions. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has said it’s “an effort to try to delay the confirmation of the government’s top advocate for our nation’s workers.”


And finally: Bravo made it official this week: “The Real Housewives of D.C.” will be premiering next fall. Although the network hasn’t confirmed the official cast, there have been spottings of production for the show around the city, focusing on the wife of a Republican fundraiser, the head of a modeling agency, and a former model.

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