The WonkLine: July 28, 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.



National Security

Middle East Convoy George Mitchell and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged from a meeting expected to concentrate on settlements to tell reporters that talks about reviving the regional peace process have made “good progress.”

Reuters reports that in Iraq today, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates hailed security improvements during a visit that will focus on possible arms sales as the two nations look toward the withdrawal of all U.S. forces.

Barely two weeks after Pakistan agreed to pick up peace talks with India, Pakistani officials are saying that India’s launch of a nuclear-powered submarine over the weekend “is detrimental to regional peace and stability.”

Climate Change

Paul Broun (R-GA) tells Politico “the strangest thing” he’s been told in Congress is “That there is a scientific consensus that human-induced global warming is real.”

Officials are preparing for a “flood of Noah’s Ark proportions” as climate change brings “more extreme winter rainfall” to California caused by “the Godzilla of El Ninos” that will “make Katrina look minor league.”

A spokesman for the Big Oil front group Institute for Energy Research said oil drilling subsidies would not help climate legislation get votes: “If you swallow 10 poison pills and a cherry, it might taste a little better, but you are still going to die,” he said.


Yesterday, a jury ruled in favor of a South Florida hospital that was sued by the brother of a patient suffering from serious brain injuries who was secretly deported back to Guatemala by the hospital.

Several of the hundreds of U.S. citizens who have been wrongfully detained and/or deported for months or years by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are suing the government for damages.

A study based on inspection reports of dozens of facilities by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the American Bar Association, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reveals that the U.S. government is not meeting its own immigration detention standards.

Health Care

The AP reports that the Senate Finance Committee is close to a deal on a health care bill that would not include a public option or employer mandate, and would include a tax on ‘Cadillac’ insurance policies.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that “House Democrats are wary of voting on the controversial legislation until they see what the Senate will consider” but she suggested a health bill “could pass by the end of the week,” before the start of the House’s five-week August recess.

Ezra Klein explains how the “ghosts of the early 1990s still hover” over today’s health care debate.


The Commodity Futures Trading Commission “plans to issue a report next month suggesting speculators played a significant role in driving wild swings in oil prices” in 2008, a reversal of the Bush administration’s position that the swings were primarily driven by supply and demand.

The Financial Crisis Advisory Group, an international group of current regulators and corporate officials, will release a report today criticizing “successful efforts by politicians to force changes in accounting rules” and saying that accounting standards “should be kept separate from regulatory standards, contrary to the desire of large banks.”

Politico reports that “after a decline in lobbying activity during the first quarter of this year, the major recipients of cash from the Troubled Asset Relief Program — TARP — have stepped up their spending as drafts of a new financial regulatory system have begun to take shape.”