The WonkLine: June 26, 2009

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"The WonkLine: June 26, 2009"

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 10 a.m. roundup of the latest news about health care, the economy, national security, immigration 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.

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National Security

Despite a veto threat from President Obama, lawmakers in the Senate followed their House colleagues in including funding to build more Lockheed Martin F-22 fighter jets.

Iraqis are anticipating US withdrawl from Iraqi cities next Tuesday with both excitement and trepidation, with some predicting renewed sectarian violence as the US turns over greater responsibility for internal security to the Iraqis.

Iranian presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi emerged after several days out of the public eye to reaffirm his call for the contested election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be annulled. In an e-mail, Mousavi said: “I am not prepared to give up under the pressure of threats or personal interest.”

Economy

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Washington transit authorities failed to upgrade aging rail cars in part because of tax-shelter deals, triggering charges days after a fatal train crash that financial concerns were outweighing passenger safety.”

Bank of America has been accused in a federal lawsuit of “discriminating against female brokers at the former Merrill Lynch & Co by offering them lower retention bonuses than male counterparts.”

Matrix notes that “quality control issues” have temporarily stopped Citigroup from accepting mortgage applications: “In other words, up until this past Tuesday, mortgages applications were still being processed without appraisal and income verification docs.”


Health Care

Politico profiles Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus’ “coalition of the willing,” a bipartisan group of Senate moderates on the Senate Finance Committee working to craft a filibuster-proof health care reform bill.

Senate Democrats announced yesterday that “that they had found ways to pare the cost of a health care bill by more than a third — to $1 trillion over 10 years — while still covering nearly all Americans.”

White House officials said yesterday “that biotech drugs (also known as biologics) should only be protected from generics competition for seven years.” The White House, “in a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said ‘seven years strikes the appropriate balance between innovation and competition.’”

Immigration

President Obama met with Democratic and Republican lawmakers at the White House yesterday in his first substantive discussion on immigration saying, “we’ve got a responsible set of leaders sitting around the table who want to actively get something done and not put it off until a year, two years, three years, five years from now.”

While the meeting was productive, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel acknowledged that there is not presently enough support for immigration reform in Congress saying “If the votes were there you wouldn’t need to have the meeting.”

President Obama plans to “unveil within 90 days a new, user-friendly Web site” for citizenship applicants and to “take as many steps as [he] can to make the immigration process easier and better enforced.”

Climate

It is now day ten of a scorching heatwave across the central U.S., straining the power grid in Texas and Louisiana, leading Indiana officials to post health warnings, and killing a man in Georgia.

I know this is going to be a close vote,” Obama said of today’s debate on the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, “in part because of the misinformation that’s out there that suggests there’s somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and our economic growth. But my call to those members of Congress who are still on the fence, as well as to the American people, is this: We cannot be afraid of the future, and we can’t be prisoners of the past.”

I think it’s an overreaction to the AIG mess,” said Rep. Michael McMahon (D-NY) said of Waxman-Markey’s regulation of carbon market derivatives. “When a car accident happens, we don’t ban automobiles.”

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