The WonkLine: July 9, 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.




The G8 leaders said on Wednesday they had agreed to try to limit global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. However, there was no indication of how targets will be met, and developing nations appear unprepared to accept big cuts to their emissions until developed nations pledge more financial assistance.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Thursday that the G-8 countries must come forward with financing for poorer nations to change their carbon-heavy growth patterns and adapt to the effects of global warming.

An unprecedented 12 large dust storms caused by a warming climate have occurred so far this year in Colorado. “It could just turn the whole Navajo Nation into a dust bowl” said USGS scientist Margaret Hiza.


Treasury’s plan for removing toxic assets from the banks, “once touted by officials as critical to reviving the financial system, was instead unveiled yesterday as a modest safety net aimed at preventing the banking sector from suffering a relapse.” Theo Francis at BusinessWeek wonders if the redesigned plan will work.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the housing market “is facing new downward pressure as holders of subprime-mortgage bonds flood the market with foreclosed homes at prices that are much lower than where many banks are willing to sell.”

According to a New York Times analysis, “the 100 largest metropolitan areas are getting less than half the money from the biggest pot of transportation stimulus money.”

National Security

The LA Times reports that “clashes between hundreds of determined young men and women chanting, ‘Death to the dictator’ and ‘God is great’ and security forces wielding truncheons erupted in downtown Tehran today.”

In the Philadelphia Inquirer, CAP’s Lawrence Korb and Krisila Benson call on President Obama to veto any bill that contains funding for the F-22, a fighter that the military doesn’t even want any more.

Al Jazeera reports that “thousands of Chinese troops are patrolling the streets of Urumqi, capital of the far western Xinjiang region, in an effort to maintain the peace between the city’s ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese.


Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told the Associated Press that the “fundamental building blocks are in place to do comprehensive immigration reform” and he expects to have a “good bill” by Labor Day.

Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security decided to rescind the Bush Administration’s controversial immigration crackdown mechanism known as “no-match” letters and instead mandate federal contractors to confirm their workers’ documents against E-Verify, an electronic government system that some say is error-ridden.

Yesterday, the Senate narrowly voted to both permanently adopt the E-Verify program and build a 700 mile border wall along the Mexican border by 2011.

Health Care

House Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee are considering a 2% surtax that “would apply to individuals with adjusted gross income of more than $200,000 and couples over $250,000” to help finance health care reform.

Today, “the U.S. Senate’s only two doctors, John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tom Coburn (R-OK), will be launching their “Senate Doctors” live, online show.

Jonathan Cohn is concerned about how the Senate Finance Committee will pay for health care reform.