Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Ryan Crocker to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “President Obama’s nominee to become the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan told lawmakers Wednesday that the death of Osama bin Laden last month marked ‘an important step’ toward core U.S. goals in the country but that more hard work lies ahead to prevent al-Qaeda from regaining its safe havens there.”
* In the meantime: “The hugely expensive U.S. attempt at nation-building in Afghanistan has had only limited success and may not survive an American withdrawal, according to the findings of a two-year congressional investigation to be released Wednesday.”
* This won’t help at the pump: “OPEC ministers failed to reach a consensus on Wednesday on raising oil production levels, leaving quotas in place despite rising world prices.”
* The banks don’t lose often on Capitol Hill, but they lost one today: “The Senate refused to delay new rules that would sharply cut the fees that banks can charge retailers to process debit card transactions. The debit card rules were a major part of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law passed last year. The Senate vote on Wednesday afternoon was the first major challenge to the new law.” It got 54 votes, but needed 60.
* POTUS talks up the “Skills for America’s Future” program: “President Obama came to a community college near Washington on Wednesday to talk up a $2 billion program aimed at tailoring lessons in community colleges across the country to match the needs of manufacturing companies.”
* The right thinks billionaire Israeli American Haim Saban is bolstering GOP talking points about Obama and Israel. Conservatives may want to read what Saban told Greg Sargent today.
* Some new study is making the rounds suggesting the Affordable Care Act will push 30% of U.S. employers to stop offering health coverage to their employees. There’s ample reason for skepticism.
* This year’s budget deficit is shrinking, at least a little.
* House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) demands that emergency disaster relief funds be offset continue to draw bipartisan criticism.
* Steven Pearlstein to Mitt Romney: “The Bolsheviks have taken over, capitalism as we know it is about to come to an end and, yet, somehow the Dow Jones industrial average has gained 47 percent since the Obama inauguration, private-sector profits are back at record levels and business investment in new equipment and software is growing at the annual rate of 11.7 percent. How weird is that?”
* The latest chain email about Obama and Osama bin Laden’s killing is, not surprisingly, bogus.
* Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) boycotted a Senate hearing yesterday looking at the financial outcomes of students who attend for profit colleges. The story behind the boycott is interesting.
* The Tampa Tribune is bragging about having a conservative slant. The “liberal media” strikes again.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.