The WonkLine: July 21, 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.




Yesterday, National Economic Council Director Larry Summers “chastised some banks that received government aid for not doing enough to reduce foreclosures, while declaring that next year’s economic growth pace is ‘in doubt.'”

Politico reports that members of Congress “still fighting over last year’s Wall Street bailout have a problem they didn’t expect to deal with so soon: what to do with the billions already being returned to the Treasury by financial institutions.”

At The Baseline Scenario, Professor Elizabeth Warren takes on three myths about the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency.


Republican congressmen Lamar Smith (R-TX), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Peter King (R-NY) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) claimed that the PASS ID Act “would neutralize or weaken numerous protections that Real ID provides,” in a Washington Post editorial today.

Yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that immigration reform is at the “top of her list of pressing issues” and that she plans on being “involved in drafting the bill during this summer’s congressional recess.”

On a conference call with Hispanic broadcasters, President Obama reiterated his commitment to passing comprehensive immigration reform that will “take shape” between late this year and early 2010.

Climate Change

The Center for Inquiry has found that Sen. James Inhofe’s list of “687 dissenting scientists” on climate change “is not credible,” as “fewer than 10 percent could be identified as climate scientists” and “4 percent appeared to favor the current IPCC-2007 consensus.”

Ken Ward Jr. reveals that West Virginia protesters of cap-and-trade legislation are being organized by the right-wing political allies of Massey Energy coal baron Don Blankenship.

“My hope is the legislation when it leaves our committee will be centrist,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) told reporters about how the Environment and Public Works Committee will mark up clean energy and climate legislation.

Health Care

“Emboldened by divided Democrats and polls that show rising public anxiety about President Obama’s handling of health care and the economy, Republicans on Monday launched an aggressive effort to link the two, comparing the health-care bills moving through Congress to what they labeled as a failed economic stimulus bill.”

The Washington Post is reporting that “Chairman Baucus (D-MT) has emerged as a leading recipient of Senate campaign contributions from the hospitals, insurers and other medical interest groups hoping to shape the legislation to their advantage.”

Merrill Goozner points to Peter Singer’s article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine about rationing and asks, “Rationing of Health Care — Will It Be Just 15 Minutes of Fame?

National Security

The New York Times reports that on Monday, in a speech at the University of Delhi, Secretary of State Clinton strove to enter a new age of deeper and friendlier relations with India, while the Obama administration signed a technical agreement that will open military sales by the United States to India.

Secretary of State Clinton is taking the increasingly closer military ties between North Korea and Burma “very seriously.” U.S. officials had closely tracked a North Korean ship that was thought to be going to Burma after North Korea tested a nuclear weapon.

At least nine people were killed when Taliban guerrillas “launched a series of daring attacks in east Afghanistan on Tuesday, officials said, in a clear upsurge of violence,” reported Reuters. The upsurge comes after the launch of a new offensives in southern Helmand province, a mainstay of the Taliban and “the major producer of the opium poppy that funds the insurgency.”