ThinkFast: September 3, 2009

President Obama will address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, where he will “add more specifics to his vision for overhauling the nation’s health system.” According to a senior administration official, “the president’s goal is to be ‘much more prescriptive’ than he has been, mapping out ways to merge proposals and ‘move Congress toward one single solution.’”

The White House is “holding intensive talks” with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) about her “proposal to use the public plan as a fallback option.” In Snowe’s vision, “if prices don’t fall by a certain percentage and coverage doesn’t expand beyond 95% in a given state” after reforms have been implemented for a time, “the plan would call for adding a government insurance option to that state’s choices.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said yesterday “that he would not vote for a health care bill that included a government-run option.” “There will be no shot at 60 votes, because I’m not the only one,” said Lieberman, adding that “if we start this out and three years from now a case can be made that the private market is not working effectively, I would support the public option.”

President Obama has decided to use the one-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers to begin pushing Congress for overhauls of the nation’s financial regulatory system. In a press briefing yesterday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told reporters that it’s crucial Congress move to pass reforms that will create “a much more stable, resilient, less vulnerable financial system.”


Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has hired fewer law clerks than usual this year, fueling speculation that he may be preparing to retire. If the 89 year-old judge were to step down, it would “give President Barack Obama his second high court opening in two years.”

The Tea Party Express wants former Alaska governor Sarah Palin to join them at its final rally on Sept. 12 in Washington, DC. “We’ve been in touch with her people, letting her know the response that we’ve gotten. She’s very supportive of the movement,” says Joe Wierzbicki, one of the Tea Party Express organizers.

Because the Senate has such a “very heavy, busy agenda,” the chances of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” look “bleak.” “So it may not be now, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be soon,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). LGBT advocates note that the late Ted Kennedy was the chief sponsor of DADT-repeal legislation in the Senate, and with his passing, LGBT advocates are now looking for a new leader on the issue.

A new Pew research survey released today finds that nearly four in ten workers over the age of 62 have delayed their retirement due to the recession. The New York Times reports that the “recent retirement losses have prompted policy makers to discuss whether Americans need a stronger social safety net, not just in health care and unemployment benefits, but in retirement as well.”

And finally: Alberto Gonzales, the concert opera. At the Philadelphia Fringe Festival this weekend, attendees can check out The Gonzales Cantata, “a 40-minute choral work based on the hearings that punctuated the U.S. attorney-dismissal scandal back in 2007.” The show’s creator, Melissa Dunphy, says it’s about “a man who made some mistakes and is facing the music.”

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