The WonkLine: June 29, 2009

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A new report from Friends of the Earth describes how Shell Oil “continues to greenwash its image” even as it has become the world’s “most carbon intensive oil company,” by moving “heavily into polluting tar sands, natural gas, and continuing to flare gas in Nigeria” while cutting back on renewables.

Even as a deadly heatwave in the central U.S. subsides, “a blistering heatwave in the Indian capital of New Delhi has triggered record power and water shortages, leading to widespread demonstrations.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lobbied officials from the dozens of states that already have systems to cap global warming pollution, asking them “to be engaging with the Senate to ensure that” the climate and energy legislation passed by the House of Representatives “doesn’t get weakened unacceptably.”

National Security

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai “accused Afghan guards working for U.S. coalition forces of killing a provincial police chief and at least four other security officers Monday, and he demanded that American forces hand over the guards involved.”

As a partial recount of Iran’s disputed election began today, pro-reform cleric Mehdi Karoubi, who came in fourth in the official count, said an annulment of the election was “the only way to regain the people’s trust.”

A new report by the International Committee of the Red Cross says that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip has left “1.5 million people in despair.” The report says the blockade of the coastal strip is preventing Gaza from rebuilding, six months after Israel’s military operation in Gaza, which left many homes damaged or destroyed.

Health Care

Yesterday, on NBC’s Meet the Press, White House senior adviser David Axelrod said President Obama would “like to have a public option – or government-run insurance plan – as part of a health reform package, but will not insist on it.” “‘We’ve not gotten as far as we’ve gotten by drawing bright lines in the sand,’ Axelrod said.

“President Barack Obama’s drive to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system may be back on track thanks to Senate efforts to cut the price tag to $1 trillion, but a bipartisan deal on the sweeping proposal still is far from certain.”

Jonathan Cohn asks, ‘The Public Option Is Important. But How Important?’


The Wall Street Journal reports that “cash-strapped states are considering raising taxes on oil production to plug yawning budget gaps, but they face strong resistance from oil companies.”

Simon Johnson writes that Treasury’s plan for allowing banks to buy back their TARP warrants is a mistake: “In Treasury’s scheme, there is significant risk of implicit gift exchange with banks – good jobs/political support/other favors down the road – or even explicit corruption.”

Via The Mess That Greenspan Made, the Los Angeles Times reports that personal bankruptcies are surging in the former housing bubble hotspot of Southern California, with a 40 percent increase from the levels seen last year.


Following President Obama’s meeting on immigration reform last week, several individuals were quick to point out the “complex political equation” that will involve balancing demand for temporary workers from the business community with labor’s fierce opposition to any guest worker program during the legislative battle.

The “fate” of a series of hard-line anti-immigrant bills proposed in the state of Arizona, including one that would require public schools to collect data on students who can’t prove legal residency in the US and another that expands the state’s trespassing law to make Arizona the only state to criminalize the presence of undocumented immigrants, will be determined no later than this Tuesday by the state legislature.

Despite mixed feelings surrounding the expulsion of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, Honduran immigrant rights leaders are protesting the military takeover of their home country and are asking President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to push for the restoration of democracy in Honduras.