ThinkFast: September 23, 2008

Lobbyists are rallying to defeat Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-CT) alternative bailout proposal, with the banking industry particularly up in arms about a provision allowing bankruptcy judges to lower mortgages for distressed homeowners. “We are vigorously opposing that,” said Steve Verdier, a lobbyist for the Independent Community Bankers Association (ICBA).

The lobbying firm of William Timmons Sr., who John McCain tapped to run his presidential transition team, “earned more than a quarter of a million dollars this year representing Freddie Mac, one of the companies McCain blames for the nation’s financial crisis.” Timmons himself has been personally “registered to lobby for Freddie Mac from 2000 through this month.”

According to 2007 data released by the U.S. Census Bureau today, more than 7.5 million people “are spending half of their income or more on housing costs.” The government considers “a homeowner spending 30 percent or more of their income on housing costs to be financially burdened”; that definition now covers almost 38 percent of U.S. homeowners with a mortgage.

The White House said yesterday that it opposed the Credit Card Bill of Rights, a bill currently being debated in the House, “saying it would constrain banks’ ability to price risk.” The proposal would end double-billing and would force companies to mail bills 25 days before payment is due, rather than the current 14 days. Read more about why the bill is so important here.

On the trail today: Sarah Palin is “embarking on her first voyage as Republican vice presidential nominee into the arena of world affairs,” meeting with seven world leaders in New York. John McCain will make two stops in the Cleveland area. Barack Obama is prepping for this week’s debate in Tampa. Joe Biden is discussing the economy in Northern Virginia.

Salam Adhoob, a former chief investigator for Iraq’s Commission on Public Integrity, told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee yesterday “that more than $13 billion meant for reconstruction projects in Iraq was wasted or stolen.” Adhoob said many projects weren’t needed or built, adding that “this very real fact remains: Billions of American dollars that paid for these projects are now gone.”

“Some of the nation’s top embryonic stem cell research advocates say they are growing concerned” that Sen. John McCain’s ambiguous stance on stem cells will lead him to “backtrack on his previous support for the work if elected president.” “What is John McCain’s position today? I don’t know,” said University of Wisconsin bioethicist Alta Charo.

Last week, The Rachel Maddow Show was the No. 2 program in cable news in the age 25–54 demographic and in total viewers at 9pm, beating CNN’s Larry King Live. “On Friday, Maddow’s was the #1 show in the demo at 9pmET topping a “Hannity-less” Hannity and Colmes.

With two more months to go in the presidential election season, “women have given $109 million to presidential candidates in checks of $200 or more — triple the amount female donors delivered in 2000.” Overall, the new study released today by the Women’s Campaign Forum Foundation finds that women still comprise just 27 percent of all donors.

And finally: Comedian Tiny Fey is not happy over Carly Fiorina’s allegations that her Saturday Night Live skit portraying Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) was “sexist.” “I saw one lady trying to form a thought that it was sexist on the news,” Fey said of Fiorina. “But she didn’t really get it together. Probably because she was a lady and she was dumb. [pause] Wait. Is that sexist?” Watch Fey’s response here.

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