The WonkLine: May 22, 2009

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 10 a.m. roundup of the latest news about health care, the economy, national security and climate policy. This is what we’re reading. Tell us what you found in the comments section below, and subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, you can now follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.




J.D. Power and Associates is predicting that “automakers will sell just 10 million new cars and trucks in the U.S. this year,” which is 400,000 fewer than previous estimates.

Yesterday “the odds got longer for a stalled trade accord with Panama,” as “union opposition hardened [and] a bloc of 55 mostly Democratic House members as well as a key GOP senator came out against the deal.”

Lane Kenworthy on those claiming U.S. schools make economic inequality worse: “Americans do leave the schooling system more unequal in cognitive and noncognitive skills than when they enter it. Yet that inequality is less — probably much less — than it would be in the absence of schools.”


Landmark” energy and climate legislation was approved by the House energy committee last night by a mostly party-line vote of 33 to 25, with Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) in favor and Democrats Mike Ross (D-AR), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Charlie Melancon (D-LA) and John Barrow (D-GA) against.

Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson (D-MN) told Politico “he can produce more than 40 ‘no’ votes against” the Waxman-Markey green economy bill “on his own side of the aisle.”

Wildfires broke out in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida as extreme floods caused $8.4 million in damage in Daytona Beach and caused havoc in New South Wales, Australia, the world’s largest coal-export harbor.

Health Care

On Thursday, Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said, “We’re not going to cover undocumented aliens, undocumented workers.” “That’s too politically explosive.”

According to a new American Political Values survey, 86 percent of Americans “say government needs to do more to make health care affordable and accessible. But nearly half 46 percent say they are concerned about ‘the government becoming too involved in health care.'”

Democratic strategist Paul Begala has released a memo rebutting Frank Luntz’s talking points for defeating comprehensive health care reform.

National Security

Reuters reports that the United Nations is seeking “$543 million for more than 2 million people displaced by fighting in northwest Pakistan, where officials said villagers were turning against the Taliban.”

Yossi Melman writes in Haaretz that “Israel’s military option against Iran has died. The death warrant was issued courtesy of the new U.S. administration led by Barack Obama.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that “three American soldiers on foot patrol were among 25 people killed in Iraq Thursday in an upsurge of violence that brought to 60 the number killed over a 24-hour period.”